secrets (Or why a bunch of kids just might save the 21 century by making it easier to cheat)

I’ve been asking people the same question over the past couple of days and have been getting wildly different opinions.

So let me run it by you.

So there is this company which checks papers written by students for plagerism. When schools sign up for the service what they do is enter the students paper into the database and it is compared with the millions of others already there.

Some students are looking at this as a violation of their intellectual property rights. Their work is being put into some huge compny database (without their consent) and makes a profit by offering access to it.

Who’s right? The schools and the company or the kids?

Though the law and order crowd argue that it’s about stopping plagiarism the kids are right.

And actually it’s about a bigger issue.


I’ve written about it before but it didn’t seem to have much of an impact. People are still screaming about privacy as if the secrets can be put back into the giant privacy bottle.

It can’t. Too many businesses are based on giving out private information to those who can profit from it for a price. These businesses are not just people doing unscrupulous stuff like HP, but businesses doing legitimate business, like Nielsen tabulating television ratings.

The real fight should be about secrecy.

I should have access to all my information, and be able to decided who can use it. If I don’t want profiting off of my work for the greater good of stopping plagiarism, I should have that right.

Before Wal-Mart sells my credit card buying habits to some soup company I should have to agree.

The problem is not privacy. The information is already out there, being collected, disseminated and sold.

The problem is secrecy.

I don’t know what nefarious use Citibank is using my information for.

And I should.

All pictures were done by Merina Thanks!

Other stuff of note. Still in New York. I’m 5-1 with my football picks this season. And Erin F. keeps blowing me off.

Explore posts in the same categories: cheating, privacy, students,

23 Comments on “secrets (Or why a bunch of kids just might save the 21 century by making it easier to cheat)”

  1. Issac Says:

    I see nipple.

  2. Paul McEnany Says:

    I agree with Issac.

    And it’s bullshit. If the schools think they can stop kids from engaging in nefarious activities, they’ve got another thing coming. They will find a way around it, always.

    They should focus on the teaching. Cheaters will get theirs in the end.

    Regardless, we should be able to see where all of our information is going. It’s bullshit that we’re all treated as a series of 1’s and O’s. The reason AOL made that huge mistake is because they didn’t see those searches as made by people, but just a series of information.

  3. candice Says:

    As an aside, turnitin’s web crawlers ignore the standards of “don’t crawl this please” and hammer the hell out of every page they find in the name of keeping kids from stealing term papers. Annoying for the content owner, to say the least.

  4. Who’s Got Your Back?

    It hurts to admit it, but you can follow every piece of advice I have to offer and still not be happy with your writing career. You know why? There’s one crucial thing that I can’t do for you: find…

  5. Matt Says:

    I should have access to all my information, and be able to decided who can use it. If I don’t want profiting off of my work for the greater good of stopping plagiarism, I should have that right.

    You do realize that this is in direct contradiction to your stance on copyright?

    That said, I’m going back out to the Les Champs-Elysées and meet some chicks.

    Yes, I’m in Paris. Enjoy —

  6. chartreuse Says:

    before i wrote this post I realized it was sorta controdictory. but I’m willing to bet that your probably on the side of the schools 🙂

  7. Matt Says:

    No, I’m on the side of the students. I wrote thousands upon thousands of words in college and I sure as hell don’t want them in some database.

    But your stance isn’t consistent 🙂

    And I’m finishing one of those two thousand word papers for grad school as I write this so that I can go out and meet some fine french women.

    Je parle francais muy tres bien.


  8. chartreuse Says:

    well, i guess i lost that bet!

    enjoy europe!

  9. Mark Says:


    “Do you think you really control your content once it’s on the net?”
    “You may not like it but you only gain control by letting go.”
    “The internet is built on stealing content. Except we call it links.”
    “You don’t get to decide how people dissiminate your content and credit you. Sorry.”

    It’s not a matter of what side that one is on. The problem comes from not being 100% in support of the side chosen.

    Until the general populace gets back in step with the term “commitment” and its meaning, there’s going to be very few of these headaches ever solved.

  10. chartreuse Says:

    The key to the way I think about this stuff is one of control. But once you make a choice to put it in the world of the public (i.e. the internet) then it’s out of your hands.

    I really think that these kids lawsuit (if it comes to that) will do a lot to solve some of these headaches.

    My opinion on this stuff hasn’t really changed. This is really about a company financially taking advantage of students work. It’s like violating the constitution to protect the constitution. It bothers me in my gut.

    But I also think you might be taking some off my quotes out of context.

  11. Contrarian A Says:

    Valid points in the post. I don’t read this site often enough to know if it goes against what you have said in the past, though.

  12. Terry C Says:

    As an avid reader of this site, I DON’T think you are being hypocritical.

    You have always preached about power to individuals. This fits that paradigm.

    And Matt, after you put your vacation pics up on Flickr can Char post some of them on his site?

  13. Mark Says:


    I dont see the quotes being taken out of context. Those were all pulled from this postt.

    That whole post stemmed from Lauren’s desire for privacy (secretcy) and the ownership of not only her works, but her very image as well. In this post, you talk about school kids and the ownership of their works (which is debatable here, because it’s also the school’s reputation and work at risk), everyone’s desire for their secrecy (privacy) to be maintained with some dignity, and of course the self-control of our own images.

    Most modern schools operate majorally online now. Students are expected to keep course blogs, establish webpages, go to the instructor’s webpage for assingments, curriculum, outside reading…E-books are replacing physical libraries, YouTube will most likely replace the in class slide presentation / movie. Schools are giving out less textbooks and more laptops.

    It’s the new media school. Now someone has developed a new media company, to check for new media plagiarism, in this newly mass connected new media world, while making some new media money in the process.

    Welcome to the new media democracy.

    I don’t see any difference — except for your stance.

  14. Matt – stop reading blogs while you are in Paris – yutz

  15. David Krug Says:

    No joke. Matt needs to learn what a real vacation is.

  16. Krug,

    No joke – dont agree with with me. That make sme nervous. matt – keep surfing away I was wrong obviously and apologize.

  17. […] Chartreuse–didn’t process the idealistic-sounding text–broad in the pic was too hot. […]

  18. piranha Says:

    i think the schools should stop trying to get kids reinvent the wheel all over again. they should try and think about what kids learn when they search for stuff they could use for their writing. smart plagiarism is good writing, too. you have to know what to take and how to take it and whether or not it fits or supports your thesis. and if this defeats the purpose of what the school asks for, have them sit down in a classroom and write their, god damnit. teachers , be creative and take your damn job seriously.

  19. Matt Says:

    And Matt, after you put your vacation pics up on Flickr can Char post some of them on his site?



  20. Matt Says:

    Matt – stop reading blogs while you are in Paris – yutz



  21. Piers Fawkes Says:

    a) I thought Merina was my little dirty secret. Who else has got her on RSS?

    b) Maybe there’s no such thing as control. The only thing you can control is your view of yourself and the actions you take. All you can do is present yourself in the way you want other people and companies to see you. I might walk out of my apt thinking I look like some hipster and maybe that cute girl on the other side of the street might even think I’m ok looking and worth chatting up, but that hoodlum up ahead of me may just think I’m a jerk and worth robbing. I can’t control what others think – I can just present myself in a certain way – in a way to let the hoodlum know, sorry think, that if he does steal my wallet I will track him down, paddlock the doors of his house while he sleeps with his family and then burn his fkg house down.

    I need some sleep.

  22. JCD Says:

    As information becomes more easily obtained by students, plagarism becomes a bigger and bigger issue. I sure as hell don’t want to be represented some day by an attorney who googled his way through school.

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