Give and Take: Who loses, who gains?

Girl Blowing on a Dandelion --- Image by © Royalty-Free/CorbisI met a friend for a drink the other day, and we were discussing how we share our presentation materials. I said “I just send people my whole presentation – or make it available on” I do this because they can see the animations and read the speakers notes (of which I have many, because my slides are text-light, and more conceptual in nature).

My friend was concerned that the work that she had done – extensive work – could just be taken and used by others as if it was their original material. My friend had built up her knowledge through years of experience, and created IP that was unique and valuable. She wanted to make sure she got some return out of all that effort by presenting it, writing about it and getting recognized for its value.

My friend also has had the uncomfortable feeling in the past of watching others present material – without attribution – that had been derived from her work. This left her feeling a bit used.

As we were sitting at a bar, with drinks in-front of us, I told her: If I take this drink from you, I can enjoy it, and I’ve deprived you of its enjoyment. But if I take your work and present it to others (even as my own), you still have your work, and others have been educated with your concepts. The result is a net increase of knowledge in the world.

My friend looked up and said: Increasing knowledge in the world is my ultimate goal, so maybe I need to think more about my feelings on this.

This is obviously not a black and white topic. I remember being unpleasantly surprised when I was attending a sales call and I saw an image that I had created for one of my decks come up in someone else’s sales presentation. In these types of scenarios, context does matter. For example, if you are making your living by selling your IP (say as books, or videos), there are different issues at stake because when others use the material, they are potentially depriving someone (the author/owner) of a sale. But, if you give presentations as a service to your fellow humans, do you lose anything when others learn from your content and reuse it?

What do you think?

About Ruven Gotz

Ruven Gotz is a Director with Avanade, Microsoft’s Global Partner. As a Microsoft SharePoint MVP with over 20 years of IT industry experience, Ruven has spent the past nine years delivering award-winning SharePoint solutions for a wide range of clients. Working as a Business Analyst and Information Architect, Ruven is able to apply his eclectic education and varied experience in Psychology, Computer Science, Economics, Software Development and Training to get to the heart of complex problems. Ruven is a great communicator who is able to discuss technology concepts in language that is relevant to his audience, whether they are from IT or business. He has become a leader in the use of visual tools to help his clients and team members achieve shared understanding of problems and goals and shared commitment towards implementing a successful solution. Ruven recently authored “Practical SharePoint 2010 Information Architecture” (Apress) Ruven lives in Toronto, Canada. On Tuesday nights in the summer, you’ll find him racing his 24’ sailboat ‘In the Groove’ (NOTE: Ideas and opinions on this blog are my own: I am not representing my employer.)
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8 Responses to Give and Take: Who loses, who gains?

  1. Pingback: Give and Take: Who loses, who gains? - SharePoint Experts - Bamboo Nation

  2. There is much more to gain feedback, connections, opened doors by freely discussing your idea/thought/experience than there is to lose.

    Share to be shared!

  3. “If you have an apple and I have an apple and we exchange apples then you and I will still each have one apple. But if you have an idea and I have an idea and we exchange these ideas, then each of us will have two ideas.” (George Bernard Shaw)

    • Sharon Foley says:

      Nothing to add but had to say, I loved this quote. It reminds me of my own favorite quote, “The mind, once stretched by a new idea, never returns to its original dimensions.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson

  4. Patrick McKeown says:


    I have to agree with you that the ultimate goal should be the continued education, but I can also see the point that it would be disheartening to others to have their stuff stolen like that. I am of the opinion that if they want my stuff, that’s great. It must be good. 🙂 I often pass out mindmaps to others, and always post/offer my powerpoints as well. I am glad that you always post yours as I don’t always get to see you speak, but at least I can continue learning some by reviewing your items on Slideshare.

  5. Isn’t that the ultimate goal? Sharing knowledge. As tough as it is, your friend should be proud of what she’s accomplished, IP that not only did her clients find useful but also her peers.

    Tell your friend to continue being the leader that she is and to continue innovating.

  6. jeff shuey says:

    Great post and spot on. I think sharing is the point. As we have heard so many times from so many of our friends in the SharePoint community. I post all of my content under Creative Commons license. All I ask for is attribution, but if it doesn’t happen that’s on the person that took it … not me.

    As Carsten said … two apples is ok, but two ideas is magical.

  7. Edith Young says:

    Sharing is knowledge! Make sure to give credit where credit is due. If you refer to information that another individual has developed and you call this out by citing it or making a verbal statement than everyone benefits.

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