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Stealing souls

January 30, 2008

There used to be (and probably still is) an issue in some societies of taking photographs without permission. In some cases it was held to be capturing or stealing souls. Now over the last few years I have come across two examples of consultants claiming ownership over stories that they elicited in organisations. In one case the stories were gathered electronically, but then indexed by the so called expert, which was held to allow them to make an IP claim on the material and its representation. In the second case the so called story tellers, took away raw material from the organisation and enhanced it into more vivid (or some such other word) form and then claimed ownership over the result.

Aside from the fact that enhancing other people’s stories comes into the realm of platitudinous charlatanism, and indexing other people’s stories represents the height of paternalistic arrogance; it must be wrong to claim any ownership over narrative material so gained? How can anyone hold their heads up after making such a claim?

Anyone know of any similar examples? I am hoping the above two cases are isolated, but in these days of the popularisation of organisational story telling into the worst form of management fad, you never know.

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