|Out on a Limb|
One aspect of sharing in the genealogical community that I found disappointing at the recent FGS/Rootstech conferences was the unwillingness of some presenters to allow attendees to take photos of their slides. After the Conferences I noted some conversations on social media that censured the large number of Rootstech attendees who captured images of presenters' slides on their smartphones or cameras. This practice seems to be accepted at Rootstech, I am one who has snapped slides at the four Rootstech Conferences I have attended.
I have presented at three Rootstech Conferences and am flattered when people find the slides I proffer worthy of capture, maybe I'm a strange bird! I just read a blog post from Australia's Gold Medallist Genealogy Rockstar, Shauna Hicks, who gave some presentations in Brisbane yesterday. On her post Shauna said " as usual my slides are on the Resources page of my website". Shauna is of those Generous Genies who is willing to share her outlines with the community, maybe she's a strange bird too!
I asked permission of several FGS presenters to snap their slides and permission was granted, thank you. Instead of having my head down typing furiously I was able to snap the slides and be released from tedious notetaking, I could listen intently and make eye contact with the presenters. Others said "no" so I respected that and busily typed the content from their slides into Evernote. In all cases I managed to copy the content of slides.
The issue we discuss should not be about the format in which we take notes it should be about the ethical use of the notes we capture.
I understand that slides are the presenters' intellectual property and subject to copyright. Presenters are worried that their work will be copied and distributed to others and that others might even take their work and use it to develop their own presentions on the topic. I wonder how many people who took pictures of slides in Rootstech presentations are actually going to prepare and present the topic as their own in another forum! I suggest that if people are going to plagiarise others' work and present it as their own they will do it irrespective of the format in which they captured their notes.
What I think people fail to realise is that slides are/should be just an outline of a presentation, they may be an aide memoire to keep a speaker on track, a reinforcement of important concepts/points or a scaffold for the audience. Without hearing the full spoken content of a presentation it would be quite difficult to reproduce a presentation from slides.
I can't understand why presenters who don't permit photographing of their slides don't ask attendees to refrain from taking notes during their presentations, these are just two ways of capturing an outline of a presentation and achieve the same purpose. Those who take hand or typewritten notes during a presentation can also distribute them to others and develop presentations based on the notes.
We should be discussing the issue of how we use the notes we take at the events we attend not the means we use to collect those notes.
I think we should look at the bigger picture, give permission for people to record notes in a format that is convenient for them and concentrate on educating our audiences in ethical use of conference notes, handouts etc.