WiReD magazine Editor-in-Chief Chris Anderson has copped to lifting chunks of material for his second book Free from Wikipedia and other sources without credit. But it could be about to get a lot worse.
In addition to the Wikipedia cut’n’pastes, Anderson appears to have lifted passages from several other texts too. And in a quite surreal twist, we discover that the Long Tail author had left a hard drive backup wide open and unsecured for Google to index, then accused one of his accusers of “hacking”.
Does the WiReD editor and New Economy guru need basic lessons in how to use a computer?
Waldo Jaquith of Virginia Quarterly Review unearthed a dozen suspect passages after what he called “a cursory investigation”, and posted his findings here on Tuesday. Wikipedia entries for ‘There Ain’t No Such Thing as a Free Lunch’, ‘Learning Curve’ and ‘Usury’ had been pasted into Anderson’s book.
In addition to Wikipedia citations, which Anderson reproduced with the errors intact (oops), Jacquith suggests he also lifted from an essay and a recent book. Presented with the evidence, Anderson blamed haste and (curiously) not being able to decide on a presentation format for citations, for his decision to omit the citations altogether. Other examples were “writethroughs”, he said.
Then lit blogger Edward Champion documented several more examples which he says show
“a troubling habit of mentioning a book or an author and using this as an excuse to reproduce the content with very few changes — in some cases, nearly verbatim.”
Champion’s examples of churnalism include blog posts, a corporate websites and (again) Wikipedia.