Wednesday, May 12, 2010

On Record, continued

If you know well in advance that your conference/workshop/seminar talk will be recorded and distributed widely, does this influence the content of your talk?

For example:

Would you be more likely to present old (published) work than the latest (unpublished) results and ideas?
  • Would you work harder to ensure that any images you project are either entirely of your own construction or, if borrowed from another source, properly credited?
  • Would you spin your talk in a different way, in recognition of a possibly wider audience beyond those present during the initial recording?
  • Would you do anything different about your dress, mannerisms, voice, piercings etc. knowing that you are being recorded vs. just speaking to those you can see sitting rapt in their seats in front of you?
Before a recorded talk, I would have to think long and hard about the first issue: i.e., how much new stuff to present. I am not a raging paranoiac about having my research ideas "stolen", although thefts certainly do occur, but I'm not sure I'd want to lose control of some of my newest work by having a presentation of this work flung about on the internet. I think I might tend to leave out some of the crazier ideas that can be fun to explore in a talk, thereby making my talks a bit more conservative.

Maybe that makes for a better, more focused talk. Maybe that makes for a more boring talk. I don't know, but although recording and distributing talks has many positive consequences, recording a talk and making it available for a wider audience is not a neutral activity and would certainly have some impact on talk content and perhaps also style.


Venkat said...

1. About properly citing images you project: it should always be done - whether or not you are being recorded.
2. About changing your and your talk's style, if it is good enough for a live scientific audience, it is good enough for the internet...its the internet!

Anonymous said...

It's important to note that "recorded" does not equate to "publicly available" and certainly not "posted on the internet". If a talk WERE posted on the internet, I would certainly think a bit carefully, at least about making it as good as possible. However from my understanding that is not the norm for recorded talks.

I wrote a comment to the previous post about a workshop I'm involved in where all talks are recorded and distributed to all participants, as well as others on request. The entire purpose of this annual workshop is to discuss the very latest advances in understanding of a complex but broadly applicable topic. I have never noticed that any speakers limited themselves to published material due to being recorded - in fact if they did, this would entirely defeat the purpose of the workshop. The idea is to have an open dialogue to bring everyone to a greater understanding.

Of course there is a risk of theft, and I'm sure there are specific aspects of their ideas that certain speakers say very little about. This workshop typically has ~100 partipants representing ~25 groups, so we all know each other, but not necessarily very well. Still, I think the overall spirit of communication is maintained, even though recording (and distribution for those who could not attend) is a very important part.

qaz said...

One of the issues that hasn't come up in the discussion of recorded vs. unrecorded talks is figures to display, particularly pictures of animal experiments. A lot of unrecorded talks I've seen include a picture of the experimental setup, including, for example, a rat with a drug-jugular catheter, or a primate in a primate chair, or an animal with electrodes. Both my current department chair and my previous advisor were very adamant about not showing such pictures in a place where they could be captured for use by animal rights activists.

John Vidale said...

Taping wouldn't influence my talk except as it changed the amount of prep warranted by the importance of the talk or the expected level of expertise of the audience.

Perhaps I'd try to moderate the partisan comments, not knowing who exactly would dial in to watch, and with the possibility missteps could be posted as fodder for youtube.

queenrandom said...

Knowing that my talk was going to be recorded, no, I didn't really change anything about it or my dress. I even left in my eyebrow ring (although I did wear a suit, hey I enjoy seeming contradictions). I admit, however, that I tend to be very conservative in my talks in the first place and a little more conservative in dress than others of my position, which comes from a few years of working at places with dress codes. So I may be an outlier.

Anonymous said...

Would you work harder to ensure that any images you project are either entirely of your own construction or, if borrowed from another source, properly credited?

What is it with the attribution fundamentalism?

The rule should be that if a reasonable person would assume the graph is not yours, then it doesn't need to be attributed (assuming there are no violations of copyright). If on the other hand a normal person would assume you drew/computed/measured it, then it is important to give a reference somewhere to dispel this notion.

leibniz said...

I haven't encountered this yet and suspect my content-oriented adjustments would depend on a lot of variables - purpose & subject of the talk, extent to which the video was being made public, etc.

Off the top of my head, though, I would likely wear a lot more face makeup than usual (or usually necessary), and perhaps enlist my sister-in-law the newscaster in helping me not look sickly in a dubious-quality video :)

Kevin said...

"The rule should be that if a reasonable person would assume the graph is not yours, then it doesn't need to be attributed (assuming there are no violations of copyright)."

This is so opposed to the fundamental notions of scholarship that I wonder if it was posted by a troll. Attribution of figures, graphs, data, and ideas is an essential part of scholarship.
Talks can be a little more informal than papers, but any actual figures used in the talk must be credited on the same slide.

Anonymous said...

I would totally change my talk, the way I dressed and spoke, and probably other things.Without knowing who the 'other' audience might be, I would be much more careful.

Anonymous said...

Do you guys really think people would be interested in watching your talks? How often do you watch a recorded talk, even one by a good presenter?

I don't mean this to be trollish; my personal feeling is that realistically no one is going to watch them (unless you're in the top tenth of a percent of speakers in your field). Most people have better things to do, not to mention that the patience it takes to sit through a recorded talk is substantially greater than the patience needed to sit through a live presentation. I've never made it through more than 10 minutes of one, not for lack of trying.

Anonymous said...

Anon 5:11 - actually I think there's a good likelihood that someone who is involved in the research you're doing, or working in a very similar field, might be very interested in watching my talk. Which provides more reason to FSP's concern about presenting new, unpublished data that could potentially end up on the internet.

My chief concern is similar, in that I would think twice about putting this week's data in next week's talk if it were being recorded. So I think it would be important for a conference to inform speakers well before their talk if they'll be recorded.

Anonymous said...

This is so opposed to the fundamental notions of scholarship that I wonder if it was posted by a troll.


Attribution of figures, graphs, data, and ideas is an essential part of scholarship.

You need to get out of the lab more often: open a textbook and the vast majority of results are unattributed.

Aside from textbooks we also have divulgation books such as "A brief history of time", or articles for SciAm, or entries in an encyclopedia or news articles or surveys or books where scientific authors speculate such as Penrose's The Emperor's New Mind, all of which follow the convention I quoted.

My claim is that talks are part of the latter category and are not to be included under the "research article" standard.

Anonymous said...

I was at a conference once. (The talks were unrecordered.) One speaker, on his title slide, had a nice piece of eye candy. This was unattributed.

The eye candy was from my work; it was my image. I was not amused. At the time, I was at a stage in my career where recognition for my work was useful, and this wasn't an image that anybody would necessarily associate with me. I was very annoyed to see my image used on a title slide as an example of something interesting, without my name being there (even in 8 point font would be OK!)

I talked to the speaker later, he said that his graduate student gave him the image for his title slide.

Anyway, my personal incident aside, I think the policy should be for scientific talks, one ought to give attribution to graphs, clip art, etc. Why not err on the side of giving credit? Clip art is perhaps a gray area, but scientific results: we're all trying to build careers, especially the younger folks (grad students, postdocs) and it's important to have names associated with borrowed material.

Anonymous said...

Micro Dr. O: Have you ever tried watching one yourself? It is a very different experience than seeing them live, unless you're watching the rare presenter that really knows how to take advantage of the format. Like I said, I've never made it through 10 minutes. Calling the person up and talking to them for 10 minutes would be a better use of time, IMO.

Anonymous said...

Why not err on the side of giving credit?

There was a period in the mid 90's where it looked like, for copyright reasons, one had to give attribution for textbook exercises. That was no fun, and believe me, no one gained brownie points or recognition by being attributed an exercise. Luckily there was a ruling or clarification from congress (can't remember which) dispelling this attribution requirement.

Dave Backus said...

I don't like the idea of taping and posting. They miss the point, which is an open exchange of ideas -- among the people who are there.

EuropeanFemaleScienceProfessor said...

Oh, I definitely speak more cautiously when I know I'm being recorded. I tend to make witty jokes, sometimes at the expense of specific companies that I never name, but allude to in such a way that listeners know who I am talking about. But when there is to be an exact record of what I say, it needs to be boring and exact.