In “Scissorizing and Scrapbooks: Nineteenth-Century Reading, Remaking, and Recirculating,” Ellen Gruber Garvey frames nineteenth century scrapbooking as a practice in which readers both consumed and created written works by cutting excerpts of books and newspapers of personal interest and collecting them in a book. She highlights the contrasting understandings of scrapbooking as poaching or gleaming. The former served as a more violent and masculine metaphor in which readers hunted and stole; the latter signaled a more justified and feminine method of creating meaning from scraps. As these competing terms suggest, scrapbooking sometimes prompted criticism from proponents of traditional texts who also cited concerns of decontexualization. Practitioners of the activity, however, found value in the personalized consumption and display of cannabalized material.
Garvey’s discussion of nineteenth century scrapbooking holds striking similarities to contemporary Internet practices. For example, sites like Tumblr or Pinterest function by allowing users to selectively grab images and text from the digital milieu and compile them into a personalized blog. The negative association with poaching also carries particular relevance in light of recent debates over anti-piracy laws like SOPA or PIPA. The Oatmeal, a comic blog, offered this succinct and humorous representation of the debate:
The Oatmeal exhibits the twenty first century iteration of the tension between poaching and gleaning. While the technology that facilitates scissorizing has fundamentally changed since the nineteenth century, the central debate surrounding intellectual ownership and cultural cannibalism remains.