Information distribution and ownership

I’m currently mulling around a bunch of thoughts and half-formed opinions on the distribution, ownership and attribution of ideas and information in an age of free-flowing digital media.

One of my current concerns is the tension between perceived needs one the one hand for attribution, academic traceability and ownership of ones own words; and on the other hand for privacy. This is seen in sharpest relief in solicitations for academic surveys. Routinely such instruments come with a disclaimer pointing out that all answers will be anonymous. Well-structured surveys and questionnaires, though, often also contain a section for general comments and feedback. In most cases I do not want this to be anonymous – indeed I would rather it formed part of a dialogue between the researcher and subjects, allowing both to benefit, learn and develop.

I am considering taking up a habit of always adding my contact details to academic survey submissions to deliberately challenge the assumption that I wish to be an anonymous donor of information, and to encourage researchers to participate in a community of interest.

Some things I have read recently on associated topics include:

Mathemagenic » Blogging research: attribution and ownership of ideas

Read at Joe’s » Blog Archive » Personal Publishing


  1. Frank, I think the issue you are rising is a very important one: often it’s the people being studied who have to be credited for interesting insights. Researchers might prompt those ideas by asking smart questions, as well as position and amplify them…

    I was contemplating of writing a full post on in, but it time is running out before the holidays, so probably later. In a study I’m doing now I want to attribute words to the participants – will see how it works.

  2. Pingback: Mathemagenic » Bloggers as public intellectuals and writing about them in a research report

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