Back in the late 90s, a wide-eyed and hopeful teenager (me) watched this magical new thing — the Internet — grow up all around him. Suddenly, for the low cost of an AOL subscription (remember those 80,000 free hours discs that came in the mail?) and the use of a 56k modem, seemingly the entire world was at your fingertips. Information, sports scores, movie clips (that took forever to load), more pictures, Pam Anderson in (and out of) a bikini, email… it all spoke to a world much bigger outside my windows than I had previously experienced.
And the first time I ever used the Internet — in my Freshman year biology class at Manual High School in Denver — I was instantly hooked. I don’t remember the details of that day; some scientist somewhere had discovered something and we were discussing it with other teachers and students around the country in real time in something called a “chat room.” There was something so amazing about talking via computer to someone in another state, another country. Some people immediately took advantage of the anonymity of the internet and “became” the best version of themselves.
Around this same time, I had a paper due for my History class. And while my teacher and the subject matter were both favorites, I’d wasted entirely too much time on the internet (uh, learning things) and on the phone (talking to girls) [May not be a factual statement. -Ed.] and came up against the deadline for my paper on some ancient civilization. I turned to the internet, and I lifted, wholesale, entire passages of text, thinking I was the smartest guy in the world.
Of course, I was caught the very day I turned in my paper like the amateur I was. Apparently my teacher had Internet, too.
Sadly, the two worlds intersect now. Sure, there’s the usual bombastic rantings of those who would have you believe they’re intellectual heavyweights or in flawless shape or could kick your ass if you happen to disagree with them about whether or not our Commander in Chief is a Muslim. But now they’re the same people who steal content from reputable sources and post it on their own sites or on content farms like Associated Content (now Yahoo! Contributor Network) or Examiner.com or eHow or About.com.
Steal content. Claim it as your own. Then make yourself sound like you know what the hell you’re doing.