Jason (jcreed) wrote,

About a month and a half late, just I watched Dick Hardt's OSCON2005 talk, thanks to catamorphism. It has a fairly striking style compared to the average Powerpoint talk, the inspiration for which Hardt credits to Larry Lessig. This fact takes some of the steam out of Lessig's gushing praise for Hardt's talk :) Nonetheless, it's worth praising some.

It's like a combination of some of the graphic crispness of contemporary advertising (I think it's no coincidence that Hardt is a Mac nut; the one-thing-floating-on-whitespace seems very consistent with the sensibility of Apple's post-OSX website and print ads and whatnot) with the minimalism and presentational bluntness of the sort of lo-fi flash animations you see people hack up to accompany like comedy mp3s or whatever. Where they're like, uh, okay, I guess I'll just display some words here for what the audio is saying. Oh! Now I'll put a picture of the thing being mentioned. And then I'll reuse that every other time that thing is mentioned. Totally. Sweet.

Surprisingly, though I can't resist making fun of it, it's actually pleasant to watch. Exactly the things that at first seem simple-minded about it are what make it good. I'm beginning to believe that an important feature of good presentations is repetition. Not that it's always the case that more repetition = more good, but when I hear something (and see it) represented in exactly the same way in several different parts of the discussion, it's very easy to hang on to that thing. Very early in the talk I'm made to know the "characters" of the story he's telling, and very quickly they seem familiar. Corporate logos are already designed to be iconic and memorable, and he chose some other good images, too; the driver's license, the google maps interface, the bottle of liquor, all instantly recognizable, and all good hooks on which to hang the flow of the talk. I'm reminded of the Wason test; it's nice to have a concrete situation to check your intutitions against when one's available. Or maybe it's just because both have to do with underage drinking :)

I might prefer something a little less quick-cutting --- something that keeps some things on the screen more stably --- but I'm excited that there is a clear push out of the stale dinosaur-park world of bullet, bullet, bullet, next slide, next slide, any questions.
Tags: talks

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