The Value of Capture: MLK at Bethel College, 1960

by Erica St. Angel on January 18, 2010

A story on NPR this morning, "Lost King Speech To Be Heard After 50 Years" got me thinking: you may never know just how valuable the presentations you capture will become.

Back in January 1960, Bethel College in Newton, Kansas played host to Martin Luther King Jr. In preparing for the 50th anniversary celebration of that speech, college officials realized they didn't have a copy. No transcript. No audio. Nada.

They put out an email to the school's alumni asking if anyone had a copy, and a retired engineer named Randy Harmison came to the rescue. He’d recorded the audio of several events at Bethel, but this one no one else had thought of recording it. He plugged into the public address system on a whim, “not for documentation, just to have as a keepsake,” he told NPR.

NPR also interviewed a professor at Bethel who remembered listening to the speech. He recalled how King kept repeating “we need to be maladjusted to our society, we can’t accept the status quo.” That’s a powerful theme when repeated today by an onlooker who was there back in 1960. But even more powerful this morning as the professor recalled the theme, and then NPR could play back King’s exact words (you can hear the story, including excerpts from King’s speech, here on NPR’s site around minute 2:45 in the audio).

It’s a great lesson for us who are in the business of webcasting. Each day across the globe, Mediasite could be capturing a presentation that may change the world. Guest speakers, classroom lectures, company meetings. You never know when something someone says is going to take on monumental significance. There’s no way to tell whether scholars fifty years from now will want to refer back to a speech as an important historical record.

My takeaway: never, never hesitate to hit the record button on that Mediasite Recorder. Future generations may thank you.



Great post! You are so right- the power of recorded Media!

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