What do you mean, someone made them up…

Anyone who has attended one of my keynote or conference presentations recently will know I have made use of a series of quotes that I first encountered at an ALT-C Keynote by Martin Bean in 2009.

I have used the quotes to remind the audience that scepticism and concerns about the introduction of new technologies or new ways of thinking are not new and that it is “normal” to be concerned about change.

Now I’ve always had my doubts on the validity or authenticity of the quotes as my brief internet research showed that lots of people used the quotes, but there was very little real “evidence” on their authenticity. However in terms of the message I was getting across the essence of the message was much more important than the content of the message. Audiences related to the essence of the message and the scepticism that they had encountered. In more recent messages I have used actual quotes and newspaper headlines about the “dangers” of technology to reinforce the essence of the message.

Recently I used the quotes in a presentation at an ebooks event at UWE. I posted the slides online and I’ve had a couple of comments plus a really useful link that once and for all casts doubts on the quotes and pretty much says that someone in the 1970s made them up!

This set of statements was printed in the Fall 1978 issue of “The MATYC Journal”, a publication that focused on mathematics education. The quotes were assigned the dates: 1703, 1815, 1907, 1929, 1941, and 1950. But they may actually have been created in 1978. Copies of these quotes have been widely distributed and posted on many websites. They also have been published in multiple books and periodicals.

Ah well…. I knew it was too good to be true.

Though of course if you have listened to my presentations you will realise that the quotes were a theatrical device to make the audience to stop and think about change and people’s reactions to change. This is still valid, the quotes merely add a bit of dramatic licence!

So willI use the quotes again?

Probably not, but then I could do and point out that they were “made up” and use that point to make people think.

2 thoughts on “What do you mean, someone made them up…”

  1. Hey – start-up idea!

    KEYNOT.ES – a resource for crap over-used examples to use in conference keynotes, ted talks and blog posts. Includes high quality slides and videos, including…

    * that classroom scene from Ferris Beuler’s Day Off
    * if you aren’t the customer you are the product
    * that bloody William Gibson bit about the future being not evenly distributed
    * and over 9,000 variations on “Education is Broken”

    For a low monthly fee you two can be a disruptive action man drawing on popular culture to make a poorly considered point.

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