Misrepresentation

charlie's picture

I have been thinking a lot about misrepresentation this week. In a world where "copying" and "pasting" is so easy, where splicing and clipping and reposting is second nature, how easy is it to misrepresent someone's point? I met with Anne in the beginning of last and we talked about my essay. She mentioned that she wished that I had used more quotes from Eli Clare in my writing about freakdom, to which I replied that I felt that using his words in my paper felt like a misrepresentation. But would I have been? In taking Clare's words and turning them around to use them to argue against him, would I have actually have been misrepresenting him? As I have thought more and more about this, I have decided that while I did not have malicious intent, in using his words, which were intended for a specific purpose to prove the opposite, I would be misrepresenting him. Any time that you take someone's words and turn them around to mean something which they had not meant to mean, that is a misrepresentation. Not only is this not what they intended to say, but it can often have a very negative effect. 

The topics that we discuss in class are delicate and difficult. They can have emotional undertones which are not apparent to others in the class. They can tip toe between comfort zones, religious beliefs, cultural beliefs, and other categories that I can't even begin to place my finger on them. With the delicacy of our conversations, it is really important that people's comments be left as-is. Written words lack vocal inflections and facial expressions, which also adds a level of difficulty to understanding one's true message. Additionally, with the majority of our class on the internet, especially a website which pops up so quickly in a simple google search, maintaining the original wording and therefore intent is really important. In order for the integerity of the writer's message to be maintained, words can't really be taken out of context or replaced with elipses. Copy and Paste are really only safe for a blogger when a whole thought is copied and pasted. 

Comments

rachelr's picture

"common knowledge" versus quoted

This is a tough one. Many things that anyone says or writes could potentially be quoted in a way that they might not like, or that takes it out of context, whether it is done intentionally or not. Then there is the whole issue of what is considered common knowledge, and what needs to be cited. What is common knowledge for one person or a culture is certainly not common knowledge for another. Plus, as many have said for centuries, everything that can be thought of, invented, or said has already been done. Some argue that there are only a handful of basic plots upon which all stories are built. Should my novel cite Shakespeare because one of my characters dresses up as the opposite sex? We explored this idea quite a bit in another class I took with Anne. I would suggest ckosarek’s web event “How to Copy ‘Right’” where she explored all the problems that go along with copyright and use of the ideas of others. 

Kaye's picture

"cutting and pasting"

...is becoming technologically easier and easier and more and more fraught in academics.  What's the best way to give credit where credit is due?  How can we honor texts that catalyzed our thoughts, especially when our ideas contradict the original writer's?  Is merely citing the text enough?  Do we need to footnote everything and include the original writer's intent?  (Can we even be assured of her/his intent?)  Do we need to include links to the full text?  (Will anyone bother to read those footnotes and follow the links?)  Does every statement need to begin with a caveat and a statement of the writer's standpoint?  Can't we ever just get to our point?

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