I know it’s not Audience Participation Friday yet, but I’ve got this Audience Participation Friday all planned out, and something else came up that needs discussing by the readers of Jonathan-Rogers.com, so this week we’re going to have an Audience Participation Thursday AND an Audience Participation Friday.

I get the twitter feed for the Library of Congress (unfortunately, it’s not as exciting as it sounds). There was a most unusual tweet from the LOC yesterday. It went like this: “The Madison Bldg. has been evacuated after smoke was smelled. Will update.” First, let me say that a later tweet said that the smell was traced to an air handler in the HVAC system. So all is well. But I was a little startled by that phrase “smoke was smelled.” One of the most awkward passive constructions you’re liable to see.

But I’d rather light a candle than curse the Library of Congress’s darkness. So here’s our warm-up discussion question: what should the LOC twitterer have said instead? I appreciate the fact that the twitterer was using sensory language; smoke wasn’t detected, but smelled. And we wouldn’t expect the tweet to say “Joe Wilson smelled smoke in the Madison Building.” So, put yourself in the shoes of the Library of Congress intern (don’t you figure it’s an intern?) who’s in charge of the Twitter feed. How would you have told the Twittersphere the alarming news that everybody was sent screaming from the Madison Building on account of fire? Remember, you only get 140 characters.

Bonus Warmup: For Audience Participation Friday, you’ll be telling more of the story of the girl we left crying in the Subway sandwich shop a couple of weeks ago. What was she crying about? What happened next? I’m giving you a heads up so you’ll have some time to think on it.

  • Aaron Roughton
    2:51 PM, 13 January 2011

    Dr. Rogers, I’m sorry that an electrical engineer with very little concept of how to properly use the English language has to be the one to correct your understanding of this tweet, but it is thatly so.
    What’s happened is that you’ve mistakenly interpreted the abbreviation “Bldg.” to mean “Building” instead of what it actually represents: “Bulldog.” With that in mind, read it again and it will be far less awkward, right up until you try to figure out what it means to evacuate a bulldog.

  • Patrick
    4:12 PM, 13 January 2011

    “The Madison Bldg. has been evacuated due to smoke odors. Source not yet identified. Will update.” only 96 characters.

  • EmmaJ
    4:17 PM, 13 January 2011

    Wow. That is a pretty awkward construction. I feel compelled to offer some possible remedy, otherwise I may not be able to sleep tonight.
    Maybe… “Madison Bldg. personnel have been evacuated after reporting the scent of smoke. Updates forthcoming as available.”

    But the real question… the Library of Congress has a Twitter feed??

  • Jess
    4:19 PM, 13 January 2011

    Multiple choice, choose the correct answer:1) Smoke smelled has been.
    2) Smoke! Smoke! Agh! What are we gonna doooooo? Agh!
    3) Coughing and wheezing were heard in the Madison Building.
    4) Someone is going to get in huge trouble for smoking in the Madison Building.
    5) We are evacuating the Madison Building because someone smelled smoke.
    6) Where there’s smoke, there’s fire. (Nothing an old adage can’t fix.)

  • Patrick
    6:31 PM, 13 January 2011

    What fun answers, Jess! I’m imagining the characters who might be interning at the Library of Congress.1) Yoda
    2) Piglet
    3) Kermit the Frog
    4) Candace (sister of Phineas & Ferb)
    5) Rabbit
    6) Smokey the Bear

  • Jess
    6:53 PM, 13 January 2011

    Hahahaha (one ha too many?)! How did you know about Kermit? 😀

  • Hannah
    7:01 PM, 13 January 2011

    “I’m sorry friends. The Madison Building burned to the ground. No survivors.”

    • Jonathan Rogers
      8:51 PM, 13 January 2011

      Fixing this particular tweet is harder than it looks, isn’t it? Love Jess’s contributions…and Patrick’s attributions. I’m trying to picture Yoda, Piglet, and Kermit as Library of Congress interns.
      Aaron, here’s a picture of Madison the Smoking Bulldog:

      Madison the Smoking Bulldog

      Here’s my attempt at rewriting the LOC tweet: “Smell of smoke in Madison Building. Millions of dry and dusty pages. Walk, don’t run. Details to come.”

  • Canaan Bound
    12:34 AM, 14 January 2011

    I haven’t an ounce of wit in me this evening, so I’m not even going to try this. But I vote for JR’s. Oh, wait…isn’t he the one who picked the topic? Hmmm…

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