When I started out on Twitter I used to wonder why people would state that opinions are their own on their Twitter bios. I soon learned that it’s a necessary statement to make clear that we are expressing personal views, not those of our employer. For me, as a NSW Department of Education and Communities employee, I am in fact bound by our Code of Conduct to make that distinction clear.
Recently, however, I’ve noticed people writing things such as ‘Opinions are my own, don’t steal them’ on their bios.
I’m not sure anyone can really steal an opinion. And for me, claiming an opinion as intellectual property goes against the notion of commons that abounds on Twitter where we share information for the common good, so that others in the community can take what they find valuable, build and develop it. We’re all richer for this collective sharing of opinions, ideas and practices.
If we share information that comes from a particular source, we should of course credit it. And if someone has influenced us in a particular way, it’s nice to acknowledge that.
But as for opinions. If you share my opinions on anything at all please feel free have them. You probably shared my opinion before I expressed it anyway. Is it even possible to own an idea?
By the way, if you’re interested in the idea of commons and why people these days are increasingly giving their intellectual property away for free, I recommend the book ‘Open’ by David Price. It’s fantastic.