Opinions are my own.

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.


5 thoughts on “Opinions are my own.

  1. Opinions and ideas shared are so much more powerful. The thing I find interesting, re both opinions and ideas, is that is there truly an idea, opinion or thought that one can call their own or significantly original? Are not the thoughts, opinions and ideas we have built upon by our experiences, the discussions we have engaged in and our connections with others? Are we entering an interesting time where people feel they need to claim their ideas, opinions and thoughts? I think it is so important to credit others where appropriate. I think this identifies how you have moved/taken on board an idea, opinion or a thought and is respectful. Maybe that is really the only thing we can claim – the moment we enable a thought, opinion or idea to evolve? Yes, I am possibly thinking too much now 😉 I read David Price’s book and really enjoyed it. When I first joined twitter I only stumbled upon the use of ‘Opinions are my own’ and appreciated being told the reasoning behind it and why it is important. Thanks Corinne 🙂

  2. Celia F says:

    Hi Corrinne, I think to a degree some people use twitter to publish ideas that were once published academically; they are trying for a larger audience but want to have the same respect and citing of a peer reviewed forum. Then they get frustrated when people don’t spread their idea but copy it and tweet it as their own. If you make your money from your ideas as an academic would this would be quite difficult.

    As teachers we do not value our ideas or realise how valuable they are. This is good as it means we share lots and don’t feel possessive…my geography programs are being used in lots of schools and I’m happy for that to happen if it helps others (my employer might have liked a fee from the several private schools using them). But if you are making money publishing programs it would be quite threatening to your income.

    The use of social media to spread ideas threatens the traditional way of spreading academic thought and this threatens to leave academia behind..but if they go for broke they will lose their income from their intellectual property.

    People have been patenting ideas for several centuries it is normal and expected. Social media is changing all that….

    Can people expect to make money from their ideas but also have them spread for free by others, increasing their income? The RT becomes a central desire of many business people selling ideas on twitter, but there is a lose of income if people co-opt the tweet as their own. There’s probably an etiquette thing in that. Every RT you do pushes someones idea and helps them along. That’s a valuable service. Hence the idea is valuable, spreading it more so!

    HAve a great Christmas and enjoy your 40 days of rest!

    • Hi Celia,
      These are really interesting points. I agree with you re retweeting. I think if people are sharing someone else’s ideas, words etc, they should definitely acknowledge their source.

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