Discussions carry more information than words. Facial expressions, tone of voice, mannerisms and gestures are part of the conversation. All those things convey information and meaning. Stripping them away changes things.
That’s precisely the point of this great letter written by Mark Twain back in 1888, in which he disallows future pulitzer prize winning writer Edward Bok from publishing their interview.
“Spoken speech is one thing, written speech is quite another. Print is the proper vehicle for the latter, but it isn’t for the former. The moment ‘talk’ is put into print you recognize that it is not what it was when you heard it; you perceive that an immense something has disappeared from it. That is its soul.”
Twain goes on to explain, as only he can, the tremendous challenge of capturing spoken words accurately. It’s a great reminder that the medium matters. Translating the written word to a speech and the spoken word to text must be done with care and consideration. Communication is more than words.
Photo credit: Joel Washing