Thursday, April 28, 2005

Sharing nicely

[Note to self:]Read the latest from Yochai Benkler at some point. Also, the Economist reports as well. Coase Penguin, or Linux and the Nature of the Firm was excellent and inspiration for many of my latest thoughts. See also Other publications.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Old boring conference format

Came back from ITK'05, Interactive Technology in Education -conference , which is the largest conference in Finland about information- and communication technology in educational use.

The topic is interactive technology but the conference format is the same as 10 years ago. No interactive technology in sight. No infrastructure to support blogging, virtual meetings along physical ones or any of that kind of stuff.

The place has a WLAN worth 8€ / hour. That's robbery. Doesn't motivate me to write much about the stuff going on there, although I did.

We need a new format and I've got some ideas I've been tossing around with people. Maybe I'll try my ideas next summer of how emerging technologies could change the conference to be more like a conversation, instead of a horde of monologies.

I have nothing against monologies if the presentations are good quality and engaging. and leaves enough time for comments. Unfortunately, I didn't have a very good time this time. Most of the speakers were just reading their bullet points aloud. I was coding a web based RSS/Atom aggregator instead.

Some good things surprised along the way. One of the directors at University of Helsinki, Palmenia continuity centre did some "podcasts" (wavs, not MP3s, though) by recording one minute sessions with various influental people (I'm there, but I don't know if I'm influental) about the future of continuity education (finnish only, sorry). This format kicks bullet points out of the window in no time. Way to go, Mika Tuuliainen, a very good idea. But next time you need a blog to enable a conversation and a way for people to discover your great stuff, probably the best offering at ITK this year.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Lessigian presentation style

Since I saw the great presentation by Lawrence Lessig about free culture, I have been a big fan of his style of using PowerPoint. Well, his presentations are excellent even in voice-only.

Instead of filling half of your PowerPoint slides with meaningless brand-style of your organization and the other half with hard-to-read bullet points, Lawrence Lessig uses black background and no more than six words on every slide. He emphasizes his points with simple words. There is always something happening on the screen. He might have over 200 slides in one 30min presentation. It's almost like an animation. The viewer is always on track and hears every word, instead of getting confused by trying to read every bullet point on the screen.

We are so used to bullet points. The tools for creating presentations always start with templates that have bullet points to fill. We simply don't see other options. The typical use is to fill each slide with the whole story being told. Presenters often just read what are in their bullet points (why should I travel to a conference to hear someone read the bullet points aloud if I can read them myself on the web anyway?)

We should ban the use of bullet points.

They distract our experience on following a presentation. If you want to deliver all your points in your PowerPoint presentation, the notes part of each slide (given to audience along the slides) is for that purpose. When creating your next presentation, see if you can move all the text you have written on each slide to the notes section. Draw an illustration or just leave max six words, instead.

Larry is a PowerPoint virtuoso.

Some have copied his style and received only laughs. In my opinion, it's a good thing that his style is being copied. Everyone should try it, because it's simply just better for the audience.

Here is another great presentation in Lessigian PowerPoint style by Edward W. Felten:
Rip, Mix, Burn, Sue: Technology, Politics, and the Fight to Control Digital Media

It's great. Genius. Funny... and the visual presentation doesn't interfere with the talk.

If you have hard time writing your story, see if the traditional way of writing an act works for you. Some more suggestions from Cliff Atkinson.