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From: <>
Subject: Re: [APG] Tweeting the lecture
Date: Sat, 8 Aug 2009 20:17:10 -0500
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In-Reply-To: <003801ca1882$f8db57e0$ea9207a0$@souza@verizon.net>

Eileen wrote:
>but my impression is that the blogger was documenting what he heard and his
opinion of it. Isn't that what any
reviewer of speeches or books does? And then they publish what they read or
heard. Isn't the blogger just doing the same?

Eileen, may I quibble here? The blogger/tweeter was not *documenting* what
he heard. He was *reporting* it. Beyond that, your analogy to a review of
books, websites, or any other media is squarely on target. I would not feel
that reporting a few points in 140-character Tweets (where whole screens of
data certainly can't be copied and distributed) would not be a copyright
infringement or a violation of fair use. However, read on .... <g>.

Michael and Rondina raise another important issue: i.e., the accuracy of
reporting. As Michael points out, that is a two-sided sword. Posted tweets
and blog entries, if they mis-report what a speaker said, can be corrected,
as Michael points out. However, the speaker first has to learn of the
erroneous assertion published about his/her lecture and, second, has to have
the time to publish a correction. Both are significant problems in today's
world where (a) there is far too much online to keep track of even what is
said about ourselves and (b) we can easily spend so much time trying to
correct the misstatements that we have little time left for productive work.
Moreover, for the correction to work, all the misinformed individuals have
to connect the dots between the tweeter/blogger's misstatement and the
speaker's correction--and need to do it before they spread the

My concern goes deeper to the heart of the problem. Despite all the ballyhoo
about "multi-tasking," scientific studies have shown that no one can do two
mental tasks at once and do them both as well as either deserves. One or the
other, if not both, suffers. IMO, anyone who is busy mentally formulating
his/or her tweet (to be said as succinctly as possible, so it will not
exceed those 140 allowed characters) is far more likely to mis-hear what is
being said while mentally engaged in tweeting. If what was said during one
tweet is then the subject of the next tweet, the tweeter may not even be
"reporting" correctly what the speaker said.

Audiences *do* mis-hear what we say. Once, after giving a lecture on tax
rolls, for example, archivists at the state archives in South Carolina told
me that someone showed up their insisting that "Elizabeth Shown Mills said
you have tax rolls for all your counties prior to 1900." No, I never said
that and never would. What I explicitly say (and said that day; I later
listened to the tape and confirmed it) is that South Carolina (along with
Alabama, Louisiana, etc.) have exceedingly few pre-1900 tax rolls from the
counties or parishes.

The ever present risk of being mis-heard would seem to be greater if
someone's attention is diverted elsewhere.


Elizabeth Shown Mills, CG, CGL, FASG
APG member, Tennessee

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