Not irregularly, when I do presentations or workshops, I get a few accusations of “dropping names”. I know what they are talking about (I regularly throw in references to theorists or practitioners), but I think they misunderstand why I do it. And I think it is important to understand why it is a ‘good thing’.
First, I was trained in an academic environment, where you don’t claim credit for ideas that aren’t yours. Instead, what you do is point to who you are drawing on. This acknowledges that you know who has done what. It’s important that you show you have done the research to know who’s done what, because it shows what you’re unique contribution is.
I admit I get a wee bit bent when I see folks present other’s thoughts as their own. Or, worse, presenting stuff wrong. Usually it’s innocent, but sometimes these folks have barrows to push or goods to sell. There are also folks who will take on others’s thoughts, communicate them without attributions, and imply by omission that they have ownership of intellectual property (and, yes, I am being diplomatic). Caveat emptor.
Moving on, a second reason I share names is to provide an access path for those who want to know more about a particular area. In the long run, while I like it if people trust me, I want them to have a channel to buttress their understanding. They can either check my credibility, or go to greater depth.
What I don’t get is folks thinking I’m burnishing my own image. If I am citing the relevant sources, yes I am showing I know the field. But isn’t that better than claiming the ideas of others? I’ve seen too much of the latter, and I’m sorry if the audience doesn’t know enough to call out the speaker on it.
I’m comfortable with my knowledge of what others have done and what my unique combinations and contributions are. I just want you to know who else you really *should* know, and that I know what’s known and what still are areas for intriguing exploration. And, yes, in many cases I *do* know these folks, but because I *have* been doing this for so bloody long, not because I’m superficially looking for facile props.
I guess some may view it as showing off, but I believe it’s only appropriate to give credit where credit is due, and I will counter that those who don’t are falsely implying undue credit. This is my life; I’ve been doing this now for 30 years. I continue to seek out what’s right, hype, wrong, etc. You don’t *have* to trust me, but you’ll certainly have the evidence to check me out.
I welcome your opinion, yea or nay.