Tell Me What YOU Think! Can what is old be new again!

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Image taken at the Museum of Contempory Craft  - a community weaving on a cardboard loom. The weaving shown - created by 7 different hands and minds.

Added after post date:  This subject is so close to my heart that I believe I might not have been as clear as I wished.  So I am adding a note!

The blogiscape has changed so much in the past few years and the result is that there seems to be little left to share that hasn't already been done and done to death in some cases.  This state of affairs has been discouraging to many and this post is my little attempt to address that issue and hopefully encourage bloggers that each of us has a unique voice and something to offer.

I am trying to make the point that original content does not have to be something that never before has been written about. Meeting that criteria is nearly impossible anymore. 

I don't want to see the same old thing over and over again any more than you do, BUT everyone of us has a unique perspective, unique talents, unique hands and hearts, unique muses and it is what we bring to something old that makes it new and interesting. I spent hours and hours building a new Pinterest board just specifically to illustrate this point!  

This is not a post about copyright and I am not using the term "original content" in that context.

So, now- on with the original post and I hope this little addendum clarifies things.

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A couple of my posts this spring motivated several readers to either leave a comment or write me a personal e-mail about "original content" and how difficult it is to find subjects that haven't already been written about - often.

To paraphrase their words: "When I think of an idea for a blog post or tutorial, I search the internet to see if anyone else has done it. If it has been done, I forget about it. It is so hard to think of something to share that is completely original. I am feeling so discouraged."

These words hurt my heart and I have been trying for some time to find a way to offer some encouragement.

For the purpose of this post, the term "original content" does not mean something that is completely new and original - never before done! It simply means content that is created by you using your own ideas, instructions and images for showing how something is made.

(Out right copying another post and presenting as your own, or recreating the very same steps that someone else has posted - these definitely are not examples of "original content" but that has been covered in a previous  post.)

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Consider this: There are dozens of tutorials and videos out there teaching basic knitting stitches. Knitting stitches are not unique, original or new. But how they are presented can be.

Thank goodness there are so many versions available because I can tell you from experience, some bloggers are much better at sharing how to do something than others. I found greatly helpful, well done tutorial/videos and very poor, confusing ones.

Knit stitch, purle stitch, and casting on are sufficiently covered I believe.  But just try and find a good, clear, understandable tutorial for the grain stitch!

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Consider this: Danish woven paper hearts have been around for centuries. Nothing new about them!

At the beginning of my adventure in blogging, I decided to finally indulge my long standing desire to learn to make them. This was nearly three years ago. And let me tell you, there were already "tutorials" on the internet but only a few and those that existed were, at least for me, very difficult to figure out beyond how to make the pattern.

So, once I finally figured out (with the help of Diane's analytical mind) how to do it, I decided to make a very thorough, complete easily understood tutorial documenting every single step from beginning to end.

Woven hearts - not original. But my tutorial is all my own work made with the intention to provide readers with the best possible tutorial for making them.

Now of course, three years later, there are tutorials for making paper woven hearts all over the place! I don't really think we need more but what we DO need are some new ideas for playing with this age old craft.

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God's eyes aren't new either! But beading them is not so common. Using them as frames for children's summer collections - original idea.

My point is, with millions, and millions of bloggers in the crafty blogisphere alone, the chance that something you are considering for a post has not been done is pretty slim. BUT, you are unique! So, let us see how your own uniqueness shines through and makes your version special and beautiful.

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You have seen this image a million times, haven't you - in one version or another - my mod podge and food coloring making music together! As Amy over at Mod Podge Rocks put it last June (2010), a couple months after my tutorial went live,  "coloring glass jars with mod podge tinted with food coloring suddenly developed a life of it's own"! Even more amazing - it is still living! And there has been another spate of posts again this year!

A year ago, it was a new idea! Now it has been recreated over and over. But that is not bad!

I realize that attribution has sometimes been sketchy or lost altogether along the way as it traveled from blog to blog, and that several people have chosen to recreate the steps rather than simply link back; but proper blog etiquette is not the point of this post.

The point of this post is that there are as many ways to make this simple idea new and interesting as there are creative people willing to try. I love all the imaginative and creative versions I have found using this simple technique.

Some bloggers have tried painting the inside of the jar. Some have tried marbling. Some have tried baking the jars. Some have colored a whole spice rack. Others, created jack-o-lantern lights. The wedding industry got wind of it and several sites featured the idea as a great way to provide soft, inexpensive evening lighting at outdoor weddings.

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One of the most important reasons I invest the time and effort I do in writing Gingerbread Snowflakes is to inspire and get people to create. To make!

Rather than show off 20 different ways I can think of to make a project, I usually like to set up the idea and show how it is done and hopefully inspire others to make it to reflect their own creativity.

And that is exactly what happened with Mod Podge and food coloring! Let me tell you there are some really, really cool ideas people have come up with for this easy process! And I would consider most of them original.

Pop over to my Pinterest for the rest of the story about Mod Podge and food coloring and where it has been and how it has been re-created! I made a special board at Pinterest called - "Mod Podge and food coloring - a life of it's own" so I could give you a fabulous visual of just what I am trying to say here about "original content".

P1110762 I would really, really, really like to hear from you. What do you think? Agree? Disagree? Original content or not original content. Most especially, please tell me how you would respond to someone who chose not to blog about a subject because there are already tutorials out there?

Oh Pam, YES! I love this

Oh Pam, YES! I love this post. Seriously? Googling a blogging idea before I wrote it? No thank you. I can imagine that would be very discouraging. Can you imagine if there were never revisions made to an original idea?! We'd be screaming into telephones a la Alexander Graham Bell. You are so correct - outright copying, especially for profit=not cool, putting your own spin on things=very cool.

And *THAT* is what I love most about the blogosphere. I love the sense that I'm just really sitting in an enormous sewing circle full of cool people. Each individual's choice of materials, tweaking of a process, etc, is interesting to me. And that is why I'm still reading 10 years after getting caught up in all of this.

I agree with what you are

I agree with what you are saying here, Pam. I think ultimately a blog is about connecting with people and sharing ideas- in my opinion, it's not about reinventing the art and craft world- that's what published books, galleries, and shows are still very useful for! Blogging is also about teaching yourself as much as it is about teaching your audience! Learning to write about, photograph and preform a skill is not something that comes naturally (well..maybe to a genius like Diane! :-) ) In that case, we should just really follow our own muses! I appreciate your post, Pam- sorry it took me so long to read it. I knew you had something good here and I was waiting until I had time to read it uninterrupted!

My response, to everyone

My response, to everyone reading ...

My most popular post is the tutorial for blanket stitch. 3 of my top ten search engine referrals contain the word "blanket stitch." I didn't make up the blanket stitch, and I'm pretty sure there are other tutorials out there, but that didn't stop me. Most of the reason I put the tutorial up is because I had my felt stuffie patterns on my blog and I wanted people to know out how to make them.

If there is something you love doing, or something that goes along with the projects you're doing ... then by all means, blog about it. People go to your blog because they are interested in what *you* are doing. Don't be afraid to show them. :)

Almost none of the projects I do are "original." But when you smash it all together in my blog and add my text ... as a body of work, it's original.

This is so very interesting,

This is so very interesting, Pam! You're right, it is nearly impossible to find content that has never been written about; but it's more about each person's unique interpretation of a certain project or technique that I find interesting and makes me read one's blog. I think you can inspire other people to create their own version of something, even if it's been "done" before.

Oh, my. You always write

Oh, my. You always write such endearing posts that seem to tug at my heart.

Please know that if you post something online (i.e. video tutorial) that has already been posted a kabillion times before, it just may be yours that touches me like no others before. It may be YOUR tutorial that gives me that 'ah-ha!' moment that inspires me to do/complete a project.

Your passion and willingness to share with others is what makes me keep coming back to your blog.

I would say, "Do you not cook

I would say, "Do you not cook because that recipe's been done before?" It's not just has it been done? It's - Has it been done well? With good photos? With a good explanation? In your style? In your area of influence? There's a couple tutorials I'm planning that are basic - I know they've been done before. But they haven't been done in my style. And I don't think my readers, for the most part, have done them. It's good cross-pollination. Like your jars making it from the craft blogs to the wedding blogs. :)

I love seeing how each person

I love seeing how each person puts a different spin on an idea. If I see something I love then I will make my version of it. I have no problem putting my creation in a blog post and then explaining where the idea came from. I honestly have never thought not to write a post because something has been done over and over and over again. Then again I blog for pleasure and do not put any pressure on myself or my blog. I can see where those people come from especially since there have been some nasty comments on blogs lately.

There really are very few

There really are very few completely new ideas under the sun, but I have seen some spectacular creations based on old ideas! I think it is wrong to take someone's idea and present it as your own, but I would never discourage someone from copying an idea completely (as long as they don't say it's their own), if it will lead to their eventually creating unique projects. And what is wrong with showing on their own blog what they created (giving credit to the original creator, if need be). I have created things I felt were totally original, only to later see them somewhere else. So who is to say that 2 (or ten) people can't come up with the same idea at the same time. It is too bad to squash the creative spark in anyone - because sometimes it's a very tiny spark indeed!

Oh Noreen, it just breaks my

Oh Noreen, it just breaks my heart when someone shares that they can't find anything to blog about because" everything has been done" - their creative spark obviously squashed or at least bruised.

I want so badly to encourage bloggers to stop going to google, follow Tsoniki's wise words below and just get on with making what excites them! Let us all meet their muse!

Just because someone already

Just because someone already has a tutorial out there does no mean that I have seen it or understood it! When I was looking for a tutorial on how to put binding on a quilting project, I had to look at half a dozen sites before I found one that I could understand and actually use. On another note...this is the first I have heard about modge podge and food colouring! Looks interesting to me!!

I have had the same

I have had the same experience when searching for tutorials for knitting or embroidery stitches, making soft toys.....

Often it was necessary to search through several posts before finding one that was understandable for me. 

Mod Podge and food coloring - if you have a bunch of jars around or cool bottles - go play!  If you don't like it, you can wash it off as long as you aren't using Out Door Mod Podge.

I think there's a lot of

I think there's a lot of pressure out there to succeed, to get high stats, lots of great comments and therefore find something truly original - but it's not about all that - it's about individuality, expression and being yourself - what 'rocks' someones boat may not 'rock' anothers!!! :() It's the way they're written, the words used, the amount of photos or writing. People are different, and people like different things. Originality is difficult - but like you said, uniqueness is not!

So good to hear from you

So good to hear from you Sasha.  One of the main reasons I read your blog is because of your unique voice!  You are sharing in the most beautifully and honestly the lives and adventures of your children.

I don't read many blogs that fit into this category because for one thing I don't have young children at home, but I would not miss one single post you have shared.

And besides, I just love my trips to Sweden!

Thank you Pam - and we love

Thank you Pam - and we love it when you join us on a trip! :()

As you know, Pam, I'm not a

As you know, Pam, I'm not a tutorial writer nor one who posts instruction but one who LOVES to read blogs and learn from them to further my own love of crafting.
I can't tell you how many wonderful things I have learned from just your blog alone - and that is just linking from blog to website to blog, etc. it can go on
for months and years...............there will always be something new in each post whether it is a tip or a technique or info. Don't hesitate to post something that has already been done - it might be new to just one person & that makes it good. Not doing something because one thinks it has been already done is like cutting off one's nose to spite one's face!

Thank you Nancy!  And very

Thank you Nancy!  And very good point that there is the potential that what a blogger  wishs to share, even if "done" before, may actually be brand spanking new to some readers!

I almost didn't write the Kitty Litter post once I saw all the tutorials.  But I am glad I did after all because - like you said - new to several readers!  Yaaaay!

I view original content the

I view original content the same way you do - I may not have had the very first idea about what I am writing about, but I am writing it in my voice, doing it my way, using my pictures of my project, etc. That is original. Even search engines realize that as original content.

Maybe someone is contacting you because they are partially annoyed or frustrated that what they thought was their own idea, is already out there in some aspect? It can hurt to realize you didn't think of something first. I think I'd encourage them to write what they want, regardless of how many other people are writing about it. If you always watch what others are doing, how are you able to do your own thing?

Thank you Tsoniki!  Actually,

Thank you Tsoniki!  Actually, people simply were writing to tell me they had been discouraged to write tutorials for ideas they had had because they found other bloggers had already created tutorials.

I just want people to stop worrying about that! With the explosion of bloggers in the past three years, i doubt there is anything at all that hasn't been covered - 20 times!

We all see things a little differenly - just like the Mod Podge/food coloring!  I love how you stated it here - " If you always watch what others are doing, how are you able to do your own thing?" 

I am writing that one in my journal! Perfectly stated.

Wise words once again Pam.

Wise words once again Pam. To me you speak about a conundrum that I dwell on constantly. I have all these ideas but if I Google my idea it comes back to me a thousand times. What to do, walk away deflated or continue on the journey? IÂ’ve often walked away deflated.
I think whatever I do it will have been done before. Where IÂ’ve blogged with a tutorial, it has been my work but the same old same old, I guess. ThatÂ’s why feedback (comments) is great. But if you donÂ’t get the traffic then feedback wonÂ’t help then it doesnÂ’t matter because IÂ’m only chatting to myself!
Having made hundreds of video tutorials in my work life and posted a couple of instructional tutorials in my blog life I certainly appreciate the effort they take. I have to be highly motivated to put this effort out there and same with others I assume. Then this is where blogging etiquette comes into play. Doing your homework first, linking back to other blogs etc.
I think there needs to be a book on blogging etiquette. So I searched “Blogging Etiquette” came back with 6,250,000 search results. I’ve got a lot of reading to do.
IÂ’m one of those that would not create a tutorial if IÂ’d seen that it had been done before many times, unless I was able to give a new spin on it. I reflect back to my felt woven heart tutorial, I didnÂ’t search to see if that had been done before, and I should have, but I just forgot.
Note to self- ‘get your act together old girl’.

Christine!  You have never

Christine!  You have never done "same old same old!"  And look at your woven fabric heart!  I have never seen one like it and on top of that, your tutorial inspired me to make some.

And your Dala's - fabulous! 

I think as long as you give a

I think as long as you give a line of credit if you use an idea that originated from another person, it is fine to do whatever kind of post you want, with steps, without steps, with newness or without. Like you said, there are millions of old ideas that get posted again and again. That is great. They don't get lost, they remain for others to enjoy. Everyone explains things a little differently, shows things in pictures a little differently. Now, of course, if you outright steal someone's post like the case that prompted your whole analysis, then that is stealing. It was the exact same words, the exact same photos and no credit given.

Exactly, Phyllis!  We each

Exactly, Phyllis!  We each have our own unique view to share. 

To make that point i spent most of the afternoon setting up the Pinterest board!  One basic idea - so many different ways to use it!

With the huge explosion of bloggers in the past few years, i doubt there is much at all that hasn't been done!  But likeluy, it hasn't been done through our very own eyes.

I just want to say to people - stop googling!  Dream!  Make! Create!  Have
fun! And Share!

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