The Social Media Model of Citation–A Really Really Rough Draft

My colleague at work Jake R mentioned what he called the “Social Media model” of citation. He also admitted that the analogy may be weak and there may be some truth to that. Like any analogy, it’s intent is not to represent the reality precisely and entirely accurately. Analogies are meant to provide a broad point of reference and assist in understanding a concept by tying it to something that’s already understaood.

I’ve taken his analogy and expanded it a little bit. It may or may not be better than his was. Since his presentation was actually one on plagiarism in an academic setting, I decided it was extremely important to indicate where the idea originated and it would be ironic (not to mention unethical) if I failed to note it where the idea originated.

Of course, ideas can’t be copyrighted and there’s nothing to stop one from taking an idea or concept and writing about it and failing to note from where the idea originated. Whether it’s ethical is another matter entirely.

Jake was talking about “papers” in college courses, but genealogical writing falls into that broad category. Since I teach mathematics, CLEPPed out of a year of freshman composition, CLEPPed out of virtually all my humanity and social science credits, my college writing experiences are somewhat limited.  Jake’s analogy was intended to really make the broad concept of citation understandable to those who might never have seen the need for it. And those of us in genealogyland now there are individuals who do not yet see the need for citation either.

  • the paper–that’s a like a discussion on Facebook or other social media platforms
  • your sources–that’s your friends list (or members of the group)
  • forwards (or previous responses shown in the thread or email)–those are your specific quotes
  • your forward/sharing snippets of the comments of others (those are the specific items you use in an argument)
  • hashtags-those are subject headings?

Note: Jake had a cute illustration for his PowerPoint slide. I’m not using that image here. His use of it probably falls under “fair use” in an academic setting–note I said “probably.” My use here would not.


Those with an interest in genealogical citation theory can take a look at the “Books on my Shelf.”

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2 thoughts on “The Social Media Model of Citation–A Really Really Rough Draft

    • College Level Examination Program (it’s not really a verb)–https://clep.collegeboard.org/earn-college-credit/clep-basics

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