Powerpoint Excellence

Lawrence Lessig blogged about this presentation by Dick Hardt at OSCON2005. I’ve decided that the next time I do a workshop on Powerpoint at UMW, I’m going to be showing part of this. And I’ll also show part of Lessig’s own Free Culture presentation.

A couple of observations:

  • Both Lessig and Hardt made me care about topics that I had previously known little about–I’m quite certain that the style of these presentations was key.
  • I’m assuming (and it looks like others have to) that both of these were done in PowerPoint, but I have no definitive proof of that
  • Whether they were done in PowerPoint is really irrelevant. They certainly don’t look like the typical PowerPoint presentation, and that is actually a dramatic part of their style (and perhaps effectiveness).
  • Both of the presentations would be basically meaningless without the addition of the presentation audio. How many of our faculty can say that about their own PowerPoints? There is a lesson to be learned here. . .
  • You know all those themes that PowerPoint includes (most of which are really silly)? Wouldn’t it be cool if there was a Lessig one? Just white text on a black background (and to really be authentic, it would limit the number of charaters/items on a slide). If Ken Burns gets his own iMovie effect, I think Lessig deserves a Powerpoint theme. Who’s with me?
  • To be sure, Lessig and Hardt’s abilities as speakers contribute a great deal to the effectiveness of these. Neither presentation would work as well without these excellent deliveries.
  • Many faculty create PowerPoints that, in addition to being scaffolding for the lecture, are also meant to be study aides. Lessig-like presentations could be aides too, but in a different way. This is worth exploring. . .

Oh, and one more thing: Commenters on Lessig’s blog also applaud the “Who Owns Culture” conversation that he participated in with Jeff Tweedy this past April in NYC. I’ve tried multiple times to access and view this presentation with no luck. Quicktime just sort of freezes up on me when I try to watch the streaming video. Any one have any ideas?