Brayden Haws

February 16, 2023

Scratchpad Scribbles: A Middle Ground

I love content. Sometimes I surprise myself with the amount of stuff I listen to and read. And even more, I love to share the things I find. If I get value from it, then I assume others will too. But one issue I run into is I sometimes can remember an idea but not the source. Or I found it online and the sourcing is suspect at best. And to me attribution matters. I want to get credit for my work. And even more, I want others to get credit for theirs. So I wonder what to do when I can’t properly credit something.

There’s the classic internet route. Credit everything to Plato, Mark Twain, or Abe Lincoln. Seems like a safe bet but it’s likely miscredited.

You could also take credit for it yourself. Which is definitely dishonest, and unlikely to have a good outcome.

Austin Klein, the author of Show Your Work, says, “All of this raises a question: What if you want to share something and you don't know where it came from or who made it? The answer: Don't share things you can't properly credit. Find the right credit, or don't share.”

So far our options are to lie about it or don’t share. I would never recommend the former. The latter seems like the better option. But could lead to you not sharing things that could help others.

Maybe there’s a middle ground. The middle ground is built on honesty. Where you say, “I heard this and it helped me, but I can’t remember where I heard it.” You still get to share. But you aren’t miscrediting or taking credit yourself. And then down the road, if you remember the source or come across it again, you can also make an addendum. And if you can’t, you’ve at least done your best to give credit and help inspire others.

It’s a delicate balance for sure, and everyone has to choose for themselves. It’s like Leonardo DaVinci said, “sometimes you can’t remember, that's the nature of man, but don’t folly and take credit for what isn’t yours to claim.”

About Brayden Haws

Healthcare guy turned tech wannabe. Doing product stuff at Grow. Building Utah Product Guild⚒️. Created the PM A.M. Newsletter. Curated the Patchwork PM Bible. Constantly tinkering on my 🛻. Occasionally writing poor takes on product strategy and technology.

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