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Friday, August 18, 2006

Notes towards a grumpy Barcamp presentation 

I'm going to Barcamp Vancouver next weekend, and I need some advice on my presentation, if anyone cares to give it. The work in progress is exposed below.

"Ninety percent of everything is crud" - Sturgeon's Revelation

With that principle in mind, I want to avoid burying all the things we hold dear (web 2.0, flickr, podcasting, bloggery, Darren Barefoot) just because 90% of them suck. If the suck rate was only 90%, we'd be doing great!

I want to get at the inherent flaws that are causing some of this stuff to achieve 3-5 nines of suck. Also, I should stop making up statistics.

"PowerPoint style routinely disrupts, dominates, and trivializes content."
PowerPoint is Evil - Edward R. Tufte

I'm worried about technologies that lead smart people to stupid outcomes: Powerpoint can make your presentation worse. Chartjunk destroys your visual graphics.

But I'm seeing some dangerous stuff in the stuff bloggers like, too: podcasting is a medium for making commentary slower, unsearchable, and less interactive.

"I demand four minutes and twenty seconds of your life" (the single finest podcast I have heard, and the blog has the greatest slogan of any. Transcript).

The hazards of podcasting are manifest, and the solution is simple: beware the medium. A better solution is to confine it to those circumstances where it is well-warranted, and tightly constrained. Audioscapes? Yes. Your music? Of course. Interviews? Usually no, or only
with transcripts.

Tagging text fragments: I think you can trust search.

Google: innovation has ceased, let the moribundity begin! But like Microsoft, it will take rather longer for market dominance to cease. And Google has probably got a pretty good handle on what is about to become the next big thing: Web Services for Everything (all your Base are belong to Google).

videocasting: see podcasting, but with a higher bandwidth load. bloggingheads.tv is a major criminal here, along with Cringely's half-brilliant Nerd TV.

Half-brilliant? He has wonderful interviews with interesting subjects.
The transcripts are great, and usable. The video, featuring nothing but
an hour of a barely-moving head, has been a waste of bandwidth. I
stopped downloading anything  but the 2-minute excerpts after episode
four.

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