Reference Your Sources and Inspiration

I disagree with Derek Sivers. In fact, that sentence is my rebellion. He suggested that quoting is lazy and sounds bad.

I think it enriches communication.

Okay, not always. Derek does give some good examples when it’s bad (constant quoting, to protect yourself from being attacked, constant hedging.) but I don’t believe that’s always the case.

An invitation to go deeper

Quoting, especially with a hyperlink, allows someone to explore and idea further. If you reference someone’s work in a book, I can continue reading it later. If you mention someone’s theory on a podcast, I can look it up along with the critiques of it.

By referencing Derek, you can see what he said exactly and see if you agree with me or him more. You may not have heard of him before and know may become one of his ardent fans.

In fact, even when you do adapt an idea from someone else, I can see value in referencing the source of your inspiration. The reader has the possibility of being inspired in a different way.

Sub blogging

This came up in a discussion on micro blog earlier this week about subtweeting and sub blogging. This is where you respond to someone or something without referencing the original person. Often it’s obvious whom you are writing about. I started off defending occasional subtweeting/blogging as sometimes it’s not an obvious calling out, but inspiration for a discussion about a larger issue or you might suspect that the situation isn’t as clear cut as it appears but you still want to discuss an issues. As I consider it more, however, I realised that even in those situations, it is probably better to refer to the original source and state your exceptions. This actually helps show that you are talking about larger issues and not calling someone out, without having the guts to say their name.

Referencing treats your reader as an curious, equal

General, I think referencing treats your reader as an educated and capable person who is your equal. You are inviting them to go deeper and explore the topic further (and say where they disagree). If you seek to make an idea your own and don’t state your inspiration, it can come across as trying to elevate yourself to an expert.

Make ideas your own.

Although I disagree with parts of what Derek says, I firmly agree that you should make ideas your own. To understand an idea and phrase it in your own way or express your own exceptions.

But I still believe it is worth reference and sometimes quoting.