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You might have noticed (in the credits) that this blog's theme was inspired by obtvse, which in turn was an attempt to create an open-source clone of svbtle. Needless to say, this caused a big controversy and much debate (at hn1, hn2 and scores of other places) about the ethics of such an action. On one such discussion, I came across a thought-provoking comment by Frank Chimero, which I quote below:

Opinions ahead! Speaking mostly about copying rather than the specific instance with svbtle/obtvse.

I think once you publish something, you lose control of it. At worst, you inspire mockery and parody. At best, you become material for future work, because what you’ve made is successful, interesting, or relevant. Usually, it is both.

All work produces spill-over repercussions that usually go against the will of the work’s creator. The creator wishes to retain authorship and control the work, while those in the culture wish to use, transform, and remix it. If the work is truly successful, it will defy authorship and turn into a shared experience for everyone. Those works are the hardest to control, because they diffuse, and spread wide by permeating into the air. The become a shorthand for those who make or enjoy similar work, becoming a shared vocabulary.

The situation requires things from both those who create the work, and those who wish to use it.

For the initial creator, they must resign most control upon publication, especially on the internet. Their work will be used to say and do things they don’t intend. Ideas, in truth, go further when others carry them, and this usually means they will go in directions the original author did not intend or imagine. For instance, I’ve had a quote of mine (“People ignore design that ignores people.”) taken out of context and used to justify two completely contradictory design methods. So it goes.

For those that use the things made by others, they should credit where possible, and have their work be transformative in some way. They can carry the ideas of others, but they must to take it further or a new direction. Then, they are obliged share alike. To not do both is to go against the goodwill initiated by the work’s creator.

And for both, we should recognize that all creative processes use materials from those who came before us, and respect the meaningful influence of others. We’re part of a long line of people who make things. It is a privilege to get to use the work of others in our own.

I think that the current look of this blog (as on date of publication) seems sufficiently different from svbtle, that one wouldn't directly relate the two. On the other hand, the theme was inspired by obtvse and would probably not have happened if I hadn't come across obtvse. Imho, that already provides one example of where the quoted comment aptly applies.



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Published

2012-07-22

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