Cicero chose clerks who excelled in rapid writing instruction in the use of signs, which, in small and short figures, comprised the force of many letters; these clerks he had then distributed in various parts of the Senate House. For up to that time the Romans did not employ or even possess what are called shorthand writers, but then for the first time, we are told, the first steps toward the practice were taken.
--Anthony 'Di Renzo, "His Master's Voice: Tiro and the Rise of the Roman Secretarial Class"
Aside from providing an interesting history lesson, this article also explicates the importance of two practices: copying oral conversation into transcript and using shorthand.
We've come a long way since the days of Cicero and Tiro, but it's incredible that their practice of oral dictation and shorthand recording lasted through the ages. It has opened so doors for us, and not just in the court room. The ability to transcribe direct quotes from speeches as well as personal interviews. However, what's truly remarkable was Tiro's invention of shorthand, as explained by Di Renzo in his article. Although shorthand is not as popular as it once was, the basic principles have evolved.
While the politicians and judges of Cicero's time needed people like Tiro to copy down everything said in the court room or during Senate meetings, modern leaders hire typists to copy all of the information and discussion during meetings and hearings. Although we could argue that it's more effective to simply use a voice recorder to create a copy of the meetings, we still must see the importance in visualizing what as actually said. Sometimes it's just easier to read through notes than it is to replay hours of audio for a specific line.
I've always been interested in learning short hand. I remember one of my old Nancy Drew games (yes, I'm slightly obsessed) taught the basics, but at the time I was too young to really understand the magnitude of such a skill. Some might argue that shorthand is a thing of the past and we have new and improved technology to do the job for us, but personally, sometimes I really wish I could just write in shorthand during interviews, because I have a bad tendency to copy down everything my interviewee has to say. Word for word. I guess I could technically google shorthand and learn it on my own, but maybe I'm just a little too lazy for that...And I suppose that abbrv. is a form of shorthand, but something tells me it's just not as effective...
Having said that, check out this new technology offered by LiveScribe. This Pen/Recorder combo, called the Pulse SmartPen, not only lets you write legitimate notes, it also records any audio and syncs it to your notes. If the merchandise wasn't so expensive (149.99 for the 1G Pen, plus who knows how much paper/ink required), I'd think of investing in one to benefit my interviewing skills. Regardless of it's practical nature, it's definitely proof that we've come a long way since Cicero and Tiro...