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06 June 2017


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No idea Baka but I don't really mind.

I was elated to see this piece reprinted in one of our weekend papers in Port Moresby in the 11 June 2017 edition on page 16. I have read some before too.

I had it sitting on my table troubled by it wondering if Phil was advised that his piece would be reprinted word for word. There was no reference that the piece was first published in PNG Attitude.

Aside from copyright issues, I have asked previously with the papers here for items from the Crocodile Prize and PNG Attitude to be reproduced and printed by them in their supplements.

I would like to think that this effort to reproduce our writing will give us an opportunity to further work with the editors of these papers.

Two issues were advanced for that not happening were that we did not have enough good material and secondly what was sent in direct to them were not materials that they could easily print without having to do heavy edits on them.

The first item can discounted as we now have a mountain of materials from the 5 years of the crocodile. It is the second that is an issue as we need a few more people who can assist the Crocodile Prize people to select pieces from these stockpile and with a few reworking submit to the papers to be printed on a weekly basis.

if there is any money to be made, it can be added to the Crocodile Prize funds.

You're right there Chris - if people see a good idea they snaffle it.

Like with the boomerang. The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade saw it and recognised it as a great idea for their aid program.

I also have it on good authority that the inventor of the string shopping bag had spent several years in PNG working for BPs.

And of course, Twitter stole the alphabet.

Cultural appropriation has been around as long as humans have existed. If it hadn't, then we would probably still be living in caves.

Take writing for example. It was probably the Egyptians who first grasped the idea of using written symbols to express ideas and describe things.

The archaeological evidence suggests that their hieroglyphics was in use by around 3,200 BC and continued to be used for a further 3,000 years or so.

The Sumerians had also begun using an early form of what is called cuneiform writing at around the same time, so it might be wiser to say it was a dead heat between them and the Egyptians.

Anyway, whoever invented writing it did not take very long for others to appropriate the idea and begin to use it themselves

Our modern alphabet is derived from that of the Phoenicians, who had adapted the Egyptian hieroglyphics to form an alphabet of 22 consonants but no vowels.

Presumably, when reading this script you had to insert the vowel sounds based upon your knowledge of how Phoenician was spoken.

The first two letters of the Phoenician alphabet were "alep" (meaning ox) and "beth" (meaning house) and young Phoenicians were obliged to learn their aleps and beths as we have to learn our abc's, hence the word alphabet.

Anyway, to cut a long story short, successive cultures busily appropriated the idea of an alphabet for their own purposes and this has ultimately expressed itself in the various alphabets we see in use today.

In the same way clever ideas such as the lever, wheels, printing presses, steam engines, railways, aeroplanes, computers and so forth have spread out across the world.

Even quite concerted efforts to protect and hide knowledge or technology from others have invariably failed. Thus the Portuguese for 100 years hid their knowledge of how to sail to and from Asia by encoding it in what were called Rutters (a sort of navigator's notebook).

Eventually, a cunning Dutch sailor went along on one of these voyages and secretly kept his own Rutter, which he promptly published upon his return, thereby blowing the whistle on the enraged Portuguese.

More recently, the present Chinese government, despite all indignant protests to contrary, is busily engaged in large scale industrial espionage to steal information it needs to, for example, build new and better stealth fighters and aircraft carriers.

The point of all this is that, however culturally insensitive, crass and exploitative it may be to flog jewel encrusted boomerangs to people with more money than sense, it is quite consistent with the aeons long human tradition of nicking other people's ideas for your own benefit.

So, while some Papua New Guineans may feel aggrieved about bilums being commercialised and commoditised, this is not a manifestation of neo-colonialism. It is just a case of a good idea being picked up by others, just as humans have done for millennia.

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