Thursday, October 16, 2008

Goddess Isis v. Professor Chaos: the case of blog infringement

I have recently gotten into a bit of trouble for my use of Isis-esque pictorial references in my recent blog posts:

PS: Let's try to keep this obvious imitation to a minimum, though. You can't be stealing Dr. Isis's schtick or you may make it on to the list of people I call "bullshit" on.

I understand the Goddess' ire. And I am willing to be tried by a court of my blogging peers. So let me take the stand and present my case:

Am I guilty for imitating Dr Isis through the use of images? Yes. I will not lie,  your honors.

But I think the fabulously shod Dr. Isis is missing something important: When you revolutionize a field, is it then fair - nay, it is right! -  to ask others not to emulate you? I would argue that I am not alone in perceiving the superior aspects for communication illustrated by Dr Isis' brilliant and witty use of images. I believe it has really resonated with some of us as being a powerful way to communicate. I call to the stand:

FIA, CandidEngineer, even the beloved DrugMonkey

One might wonder why the use of funny pictures seems to work and why I cannot seem to resist using them now that I've seen it done by a master. My defense is feeble, but I lay may case before the court:

I love academia and I love being a scientist. I would not choose any other job for myself. But I do see things that I find...illogical. My desire is to discuss these things that I do not understand (or frankly worry me) in a way that at the same time conveys my love of what I do. I think from my earliest posts it is clear that humor has been my way of doing this. The use of images to help convey the humor when sometimes it is hard to write something funny is frankly what I consider the deeply and fundamentally brilliant aspect to Dr. Isis' style. In some ways, she is our equivalent to Jon Stewart. When the nightly news makes you want to throw yourself off the nearest building, Jon Stewart can wrap the same essence into something that makes us laugh and think at the same time.

Of course, Jon Stewart does not act alone. He has a nice foil and colleague in Stephen Colbert - who also uses humor to discuss things that would make us want to cry otherwise. Since the Colbert character was taken from the Jon Stewart show, perhaps there is an analogy we could discuss here. Perhaps, Dear Isis and members of the jury, you will allow me to play Stephen Colbert to Isis' Jon Stewart. Now, I imagine that Stephen Colbert pays some sort of royalties or has some other financial arrangement with Stewart, and I am happy to pay the Goddess royalties from every blog where I use images. Unfortunately, my blog royalties look kinda like my grant dollars:


With that, I throw myself on the mercy of the court.


ScientistMother said...

I'm with you river tam, imitation is the finest form of flattery. If not wanting us emulate her bodaciousness in both the lab and life - why is she blogging?

If you're her colbert that would be so awesome as he's Canadian and I think you are too!

Drugmonkey said...

using funny pictures and captions in blog posts is Isis' invention?


lookout blogosphere, here come the lawsuits! HAHAHAHAHA!!!!

(honestly, I thought she was joking about all those "this post seems familiar" comments)

Cath@VWXYNot? said...

It can be really difficult to read such a distinctive style of writing and not incorporate it into your own. I have found this happening to me with Dr Isis's style, but I also have to be careful after reading some authors (e.g. Douglas Adams, Helen Fielding). I've rewritten a few of my posts after noticing too many Isis-isms, but I did keep this first photo caption intact 'cos I liked it.

Isis the Scientist said...

(honestly, I thought she was joking about all those "this post seems familiar" comments)

Indeed, Drugmonkey. Indeed. Dr. Isis feels ire for no one and directs her wrath in no general direction. It warms my heart that one of my readers has compared me to Jon Stewart and states that I have "revolutionized" the blogosphere. Perhaps that means that Dr. Isis is succeeding to some small degree in her goal of convincing women scientists to be proud and unapologetic of their roles as totally smoking hot professionals, wives, mothers, etc.

River, just between us, the goddess harbor no wrath towards you. In fact, she unabashedly blushed upon reading this post. You may, indeed, be my Colbert and I find you absolutely adorable.

But, River, let's just keep this between us. Dr. Isis does, after all, hve an image to maintain.

River Tam said...

Jon (I mean Isis), you have no idea how relieved I am that you have found my offering acceptable. I get great joy from you and your posts. It has never been my intent to offend.

Scientistmother, DrugMonkey, Cath@vwxynot, thanks for your support. I think I lucked out with my jury!

(Now, can someone explain the whole eleventy!!!! thing to me?)

Isis the Scientist said...

I fear there may be but one man who really understands the eleventy. But outside of our war-ing, I haven't heard much from him.

tai haku said...

So if Isis is JS and River is Colbert, who's playing Bill-O? Is PP or mad mike our Olbermann? This analogy creates more questions than it answers. I approve.

drdrA said...

Physioprof tagged me... and I'm tagging you...