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Mon(k)eyshines

I can’t believe it. HBS Working Knowledge late last month published an interview with Matthew Lesko, the Riddler-meets-Joker human cartoon who hypes his Free Money books on TV infomercials.

If you’ve seen the ads, you’ve only gotten a taste of what Lesko has up his sleeve. And if you at one point bought any of his books — like I did, so you don’t have to — you were probably sorely disappointed. Not only is most, perhaps all, of the information publicly available, it’s most likely available online now. (Besides, the book I bought, Free Money to Change Your Life was decidedly light on design.)

Does the attention paid by Working Knowledge lend Lesko a confusing credibility? Perhaps. But the article, drawn largely from an early April presentation at HBS, includes some highlights. “Lesko has a unique writing process: plagiarism,” writes Wendy Guild Swearingen. “It turns out, he says, that in the government, nothing is copyrighted. He simply cut and pasted text from government publications for his first New York Times bestseller.”

Free Money for Repurposing Publicly Available Information, anyone?

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