Friday, May 2, 2008

Meet Ben Whitehouse

I just discovered that much of the content of my Lifehack post N'allez pas trop vite has been borrowed without attribution by a blogger named Ben Whitehouse, in a post that he too calls N'allez pas trop vite.

ML: I like Marcel Proust’s words: N’allez pas trop vite. Don’t go too fast.

BW: I like Marcel Proust’s words: N’allez pas trop vite. Don’t go too fast.

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ML: : . . . phone conversations, text-messaging, and iPod management . . .

BW: Phone conversations, iPod management and text messaging . . .

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ML: It might not be practical to slow down when one has ten minutes to get from one end of a campus to the other. But a college student might benefit in numerous ways from slowing down and looking at and learning about her or his surroundings.

BW: It might not be practical to slow down when one has ten minutes to get from one end of a campus to the other. But a student (and me for that matter) might benefit in numerous ways from slowing down and looking at and learning about our surroundings.
My post went on to describe five ways in which a student might slow down and pay greater attention to the details of a campus. Whitehouse borrows the first three:
ML: 1. Learn about a building, your residence hall perhaps, or a classroom building. How old is it? Who designed it? What style of architecture does it represent? For whom was it named? Did it serve another purpose in the past? What if anything once stood where it was built? A neighborhood? A cornfield?

BW: 1. Learn about a building. For whom was it named? Did it serve another purpose in the past? What if anything once stood where it was built? A neighborhood? A cornfield?

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ML: 2. Give some attention to the monuments and portraits that most students (and faculty) walk past. Commemorative plaques, presidential portraits, class gifts (sometimes in the form of a fountain or gate), memorials to alumni in military service: all these can help you to recognize that as a college student, you’re a member of a community that spans generations of endeavor.

BW: 2. Give some attention to the monuments and portraits that most students (and faculty) walk past. Commemorative plaques, presidential portraits (this is a tradition that's only just started here) all help connest [sic] you to a community that spans generations of endeavor.

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ML: 3. Learn some legends. Stories, natural and supernatural, abound on college campuses. Learning some local lore (perhaps through clippings or microfilm in the library) might brighten (or darken!) your experience of campus life.

BW: 3. Learn some legends. Stories, natural and supernatural, abound on college campuses. Learning some local lore might brighten (or darken!) your experience of campus life.
What kind of person borrows someone else's words without attribution to make a blog post? I found a book review by Ben Whitehouse with a brief bio:
Ben Whitehouse works at the Guild of Students at the University of Birmingham in the UK. He has a blog [here]. In his spare time he runs a book group, film club, and finds time to campaign on issues around LGBT rights, local residents rights and he also helps entertaining his three nephews who he loves very much.
Which of course doesn't really answer my question.

comments: 12

Eustace Bright said...

shame.

tim said...

Wow...that's pretty blatant. Of course, you should check out my latest post..."How to e-mail a professor" :)

Jason said...

You've been plagiarized! Wouldn't it have just been easier for *Ben Whitehouse* to link to your original posting?

Geo-B said...

I am also a university English teacher and I had exactly this conversation this morning with a fellow teacher; at the end of the semester we all despair that we didn't teach our students sufficiently that they shouldn't just blatantly take things word for word off the internet. The truth is that there is no way to get the message across because it is so pervasive now in all levels. The battle seems lost.

Michael Leddy said...

Thanks, everyone, for the comments. It bewilders me that someone would do this kind of thing to make a blog post.

George, I think that most students can be taught academic integrity. (Am I too optimistic?) That so few students will simply acknowledge lifting words (resorting instead to absurd defenses) suggests to me that they know what's right and what's wrong. They just don't expect to be caught.

Geo-B said...

Well, when the president of Southern Illinois University, a man who ran for the governorship of Illinois, claims that as a graduate student he didn't understand proper referencing, I'm discouraged.

JuliaR said...

I think you are right and they do know the difference between right and wrong. Therefore, it IS a matter of getting caught. Have you outed him in any way yet? Made a comment on HIS blog?

JuliaR said...

Hmm, that post has been taken down now. "interesting" - not.

Michael Leddy said...

The Glenn Poshard scandal reveals the pathetic standards of scholarship in the department in which Poshard did his grad work. (For anyone not familiar with this bit of recent academic history, this post is a start. Poshard seems to have been working in an academic environment that didn't care about quotation marks.)

I'm glad that BW took down "his" post. That I found out about it by pure chance is a good reminder — search engines don't lie. James Twitchell just learned this lesson in a big way.

Geo-B said...

Of course, there's an irony in that article about James Twitchell by Jack Stripling that you link:
"The initial allegations made against Twitchell illustrate how, in an Internet age, plagiarism is more easily identified. Roy Rivenburg, a freelance writer and former Los Angeles Times reporter, performed a Web search to find a story he'd written 10 years earlier. When he plugged in key words from the story, Twitchell's work started popping up."
The first step is, in an Internet age, plagiarism is more easier to commit.

Michael Leddy said...

Yes, easier to commit and to discover. In pre-Internet days, I often discovered plagiarism through sheer chance — by suspecting that something was not right and just happening to find the right book or journal. Those episodes convinced me that the gods really, really dislike plagiarism.

I'm not persuaded that students who plagiarize in these Internet days are engaging in bricolage, experiments with voice, et cetera — explanations (or justifications?) I've heard advanced in all seriousness. I see plagiarism as the work of opportunists who have so little understanding of the abilities of their professors that they think they can pass off the most ridiculously improbable material as their own. Sometimes a single word or phrase signals that a plagiarist is at work. Have you had that experience too, George?

Geo-B said...

I'll tell you what, if my student used the word bricolage in a paper, I'd certainly be suspicious.