This week in class we’re talking about ethics.
It’s interesting, and has been making me think about ethics around what people post online.
I’ve got my own set of ethics that I made for myself.
And by that I mean, I usually judge each thing on a case by case, but I know what I generally do.
For instance, these new courses I’m teaching or the new residency: I choose not to release those details until it’s official.
Or during the Online versus In Store Book Buying Series, when I decided not to name-and-shame publishers who denied me an interview.
Uni was talking about the differences between America and Australia, and: whether the public’s right to know something/free speech/slander.
“Writing has long-term implications,” the lecturer told us.
Of which I know well.
That time during the book buying series that a few emails from a V.I.P. (Very Important Publisher) sent me into a meltdown (thank you again to Sally Rippin for coaching me through that!!).
I don’t know if I mentioned it, but I was contacted about six months ago over copyright of a photo I’d used. I’d just pinched it from Google Images, but the photographer emailed saying she wanted credit or I needed to take it down.
I countered that the photo was actually a part of a new photo file which had two photos on it – her one and another one (slapped on a white background, with a funny caption). So the new photo image belonged to the person who made it (who had their website address along the bottom of it, ie credit) and not her, and if she wanted to chase her copyright she needed to track down that person.
She replied saying thanks anyway, sighing, and saying it was a good lesson to her not to put any photos out there without watermarks.
It’s interesting, isn’t it, because although I rarely go through my archives it doesn’t mean no-one else is.
And as the years go on, and opinions/thoughts/feelings change, who’s to say what I wrote back then I might not re-post now?
This is the Potter Box.
Thanks to Wikipedia: The Potter Box is a model for making ethical decisions, developed by Ralph B. Potter, Jr., professor of social ethics emeritus of Harvard Divinity School. It is commonly used by communication ethics scholars. Moral thinking should be a systematic process. A judgment is made and action is taken. How do we come to decisions must be based in some reasoning.
It’s a good way to look at an ethical issue from all angles.
I think, though, what it comes down to is two things.
One: I work for myself on this website and therefore have no boss breathing down my neck telling me what I can or can’t write. On the flip side, there are plenty of people in this industry whom I don’t want to piss off and therefore I’d never write “Geez I really hate Penguin” (obviously, I LOVE Penguin (this I’ve made so so clear over the years!)) or something similar.
Two: You can usually tell if your gut if something is right or wrong, and whether you should be saying something.
But its the unintentional words that scare me, the ones that offend without meaning to.
Like my publisher example from above.
You think I purposefully meant to piss that publisher off? Of course not!
What do you think?