On slideware

A few weeks ago, Geoffrey Grosenbach a.k.a. Topfunky was kind enough to fly me out to give a Ruby talk for the folks at Seattle.rb. I’ll be giving a reprise of this talk, titled “The API Construction Set”, in a few weeks at Ruby-NYC. But if you absolutely can’t wait, you could go check out Geoff’s blog, where he’s just posted the audio and PDF slides of the talk.

I know it’s the convention for everybody to post slides after giving a talk, but I’ve always suspected that my slides are much less useful than most. If you’ve seen me talk before, you probably wouldn’t be surprised to hear that I’ve read Edward Tufte’s anti-PowerPoint rant a few times, and I try to keep it in mind when I’m preparing a talk. There’s nothing worse than watching somebody read bullet points off of projected slides for an hour straight, so I don’t have many bullets and most of my content ends up coming out of my mouth, not anywhere on the slide. Of course, with the provided audio you could try listening to the MP3 and guessing where I made the slide transitions, but I don’t know if my words are worth that much effort. I’d put up with that annoyance if, say, the Buddha gave a lecture on enlightenment at UC Berkeley, but that’s about it.

(Incidentally, is anybody working on video & audio formats that embed metadata for connecting to other applications? Ideally, that audio file would have information that would allow it to drive the PDF slides automatically. And every time I see a video on YouTube that displays a URL on the screen, I think that it’s a shame I can’t click on it. If you know of any efforts in this area, please let me know.)

One especially tricky aspect of giving this sort of a talk is that when you’re talking about code, you probably need more resolution than you get on a screen. Many programming problems can’t be represented in just 15 lines, but that’s about all you get if you want the guys way in the back to be able to read your examples.

Tufte mentions paper handouts, and I’ve used them in previous talks, but then you can’t tweak your examples last-minute, not to mention all the avoidable tree-killing. So this time, I prepared a downloadable archive of Ruby files, so the motivated attendee could follow along on his own laptop. That seemed to work okay.

Anyway, NYC Rubyists can just come to our next meeting, on October 24. And at some point after that, I hope to actually write the whole thing up into an entry here on this blog. But, you know, there are lots of things I hope to do.

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QuirkeyBlog » Blog Archive » NYC is rb
First tracked December 3, 2006

… that devours all the good programmers from around the world).
There was a nice recap of RubyConf which I unfortunately missed and Francis Hwang gave his presentation on tools for building API’s which had a healthy dose of meta-programming which got me really excited. I’m definitely going back, and look forward to being a more serious participant. Ruby + NYC = I’m …