Did Huffington Post freelancer rip off a Star Tribune op/ed?

On April 9, the Star Tribune published a op/ed entitled "Twitter needs Shakespeare," written by Jeremiah Christopher Whitten, a strategic communications expert in Chaska.

Two days later, the Huffington Post published a piece entitled "If Shakespeare Had Twitter," written by freelance journalist Josh Barrie.

The one-two punch of Twitter-Shakespeare pieces prompted Whitten to write a letter to media blogger Jim Romenesko. "It's quite interesting that [Barrie's article] appeared on HuffPo less than 36 hours after my op/ed," Whitten writes.

"A different piece, yes, but perhaps the inspiration was unacknowledged or, perchance, borrowed," he continues. "I'm not sure, but it's quite a coincidence."

The letter seems to suggest that there might be something fishy going on here, but in truth, other than the headlines, the two columns are almost entirely different. Whitten's column laments the role Twitter's 140-character blasts of communication have played in the supposed decline of written language's meaningfulness, while Barrie's discusses a website called Pentametron that seeks out tweets composed in iambic pentameter and then retweets them. (Why anyone would care enough about this to actually read Barrie's column is a different issue.)

Despite the fact that their respective subject matters are completely different, Romenesko seems to think Barrie should respond to Whitten's letter, lest people think he ripped Whitten off. Earlier today, Romenesko directed the following tweet toward Barrie, with a period placed before the handle so all Romenesko's followers can see him calling Barrie out:

Ironically, it appears both Romenesko and Whitten have fallen prey to one of the dangers inherent in today's short-attention-span communication culture, a culture that Whitten laments throughout his Strib op/ed -- namely, that since we're now so adapted to skimming, it can often be difficult to read past the headline.

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