Plagiarism. Naughty, naughty

The term ‘plagiarism’ is usually concerned primarily with academic work in English Language, Humanities and the Arts. However, this too can be applied to newer issues surrounding technology. Given that a vast amount of the Western World’s economy is built upon technological products such as software, mobile phones and other consumer electronics, work must be protected in order to protect the original authors.

As Scott said, the line between plagiarism and inspiration is a fine one. We could completely rip off existing work, giving no credit to the people who took the time to create it and pass it off as our own, but this is dishonest and gets us nowhere. If we do not understand exactly what we are dumping on our page we are learning nothing and merely replicating – throwing more unoriginal content out onto the internet.

We have to start somewhere though. We can’t just sit down and turn onto writing ActionScript or PHP without first experiencing and deconstructing the way existing products function. Many a time I have sat and stared at the source code for a website I have found to be particularly interesting, and this is a great way to learn. We start to notice trends, standards, interesting new ways of achieving what we want. Tutorials are a good starting point for learning ways to create working models for our concepts if you can find one that is specific enough to meet your needs. They give us a framework on which to build something worth putting on the internet.

Some useful tutorial sites I have come across for Ruby on Rails amongst other things:

http://www.tutorialized.com/
http://alistapart.com/
http://www.sitepoint.com/ (not all free, but worth looking at)
http://lynda.com/ (who already have a range of Adobe CS4 tutorials up if you fancy brushing up)

When authoring new websites and code we can be protected with intellectual property laws. Creative Commons is a very accessible way of protecting your work and licencing it for use in the ways you specify. This is highly recommended for anyone who is considering writing plugins, widgets, applications as well as musicans, photographers, authors… the list goes on.

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