I made some notes during the Connections 2007 conference about things I should post to my blog, and I’m just getting around to doing so. The conference was very useful – especially in forcing me to prepare a coherent presentation – and I recommend it to other iSchool doctoral students. Some things I noticed:
Grad students are good speakers
Plenty of people complain about the inability of most academics to give interesting talks or appropriately use PowerPoint or similar tools. The students who presented at Connections were a couple standard deviations above the mean. Their slides had the right amount of text; their diagrams were illustrative. They seemed knowledgeable and prepared and did a thorough and thoughtful job answering questions. I hope we can all keep those presentation skills as we continue into “real” jobs. Even presentations about work far from my own had me paying attention. It was a lovely, welcome change from other conferences I’ve attended.
Presentation room setup is a pain
I like to move around while I present, and that was just not an option this time. Please, when designing rooms for presentations, use mobile mics (or proper acoustics that don’t require mics to reach the back row), put the podium on wheels so it can be turned to accommodate remote controls, and don’t require that the speaker be in the dark in order for slides to be visible. I have many other pet peeves about presentation room setup, but these three were the most troublesome during this particular presentation. I’m a Mac owner and Keynote user. I like to use one word per slide. It’s important for me to be able to move around and still use my remote. I’m also pretty loud. So a room where people in the back row can’t hear me has sound issues.
I love Keynote. It’s presentation view and rehearse options dominate the competition. It’s easy to make slides and to insert pictures and other files. I’m officially switching.
Bendable concrete is not my passion
More on this later. I presented some discussions of diffusion of innovations and identity based on what I’m seeing in the bendable concrete project. While I find those theoretical frameworks interesting, I’m not sure how sustainable my interest in the bendable concrete project really is. I understand that one must wax and wane during a dissertation, but it seems early in the game for me to be waning every time I hear about something more exciting. If you have recommendations for more personally exciting places for me to study innovation, collaboration, communities of practice, and/or identity, please share them. I’m still mad at Bill Frist for making my poker studies impossible. Stupid online gaming finance laws.