Not Quoting Mark Twain

I took a break from my morning work to stretch and add a few steps to my FitBit (have to get those 10,000 steps in, you know). I picked up my Android tablet, fired up my Kobo eBook reader app, and started walking around the house, going up and down steps, and searching for some enlightenment, or maybe just entertainment, as I walked.

I am currently reading a book called "OPEN", by David Price. It's about the new way we learn, the new way we live, and the new way business operate, or will operate in an open future. Those of you who know me know that I've been writing about Linux and Open Source software since 1999, so the whole "open" thing isn't entirely new to me. Consequently, while it's really an interesting book so far, I do feel like I'm mostly reading things that I already know. It is, however, early in the book, and I plan on finishing it.

One of the things that caught my attention, as I read, was a quotation attributed to Mark Twain regarding colleges. It states that "College is a place where a professor's lecture notes go straight to the students lecture notes, without passing through the brains of either."

Since I happen to love Mark Twain, and this quote certainly sounded like something he would have said, I decided to look it up. The reason being, of course, that I wanted to share it with you. In the spirit of open, of course.

And so I started googling. The problem is that it appears that Mark Twain did not, in fact, say this. Its a misquote. Now I'm left with a cool quote, that really sounds like it could be Mark Twain, but isn't. You can have it, if you want. It's still pretty good, but it now lacks that "Je ne sais Twain."

Since I can't share this quote in the spirit that I wanted to share it, I'll share a really cool site that I discovered while searching for the veracity of the college quote. Its called Quote Investigator and you can find it at The subtitle of the site is "Exploring the origins of quotations."

There is a huge number of cool quotes out there on the Internet, made seemingly more real by attaching the words to a picture of the person to whom the quote is attributed. With so many quotes being quoted and requoted, it seems likely that sometimes people will get it wrong.

So, if like me, you find yourself wondering whether a particular famous person actually said some clever thing, head over to Quote Investigator and check it out. Do some research. Then, search around and see if Quote Investigator got it wrong. It might be enlightening. It might be terribly depressing, especially if you wanted to share that cool quote. But, at least you won't add to the growing collection of misquotes.

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