The Moment Your PowerPoint is Done (A musing on the mystical result of reduction toward simplicty)

Posted by bryanzug - 2005/10/06

It’s fun to watch effective solutions propogate across industries and disciplines.

That’s what struck me as I finally watched the ‘Identity 2.0’ presentation Dick Hardt of Sxip Identity gave at O’Reilly Open Source Convention (OSCON) a couple of months ago in Portland.

While the presentation was brilliant in it’s content (he really made a technical subject very easy to understand to folks like me who went to public high school) — his form is what grabbed my attention.

If you do any public presenting in any industry (executive, teacher, supervisor, project manager, sales, pastor, etc.) — GO WATCH THIS VIDEO NOW!

(Yes, I know I’m shouting — but hey, I need to get your attention and that’s the rarest commodity these days.)

Hardt uses a conversational and simple PowerPoint (apologies for the CamelBack) style that will have a big impact on what these types of presentations look like in the future.

The thing he does so well here is what any seasoned graphic, mulimedia, or user interface (UI) designer tells the novices around us to do everyday –

Simplify, simplify, simplify!

Use white space!

Or — the one I picked up somewhere many years ago — the voice of the aged design guru who, in passing his years of wisdom to the young grasshopper now before him, leans in and in a classy foreign accent says –

“Zhe first prinicple of design is to take zhevrything possible out of zhe design – ZHEVERYTHING!!”

“Zhuntil it nearly breaks.” (This part is whispered)

“Zhuntil the thing nearly stops working.” (Again, whispered)

“…zhe moment when you’ve done zhat and you can do no more – zhis is the moment you are finished…” (This is when the guru sighs, and dies)

So it was great to watch Hardt run with it — spectacular, funny, and simple — in a way that that the whole became more than the sum of its parts.

Then, to top it off, Hardt notes that he did not invent the style but picked it up from Larwence Lessig.

Wow — very cool — I have been a big fan of Lessig for years but have never seen or heard him present. Nice to see effective solutions go viral (and to note, yet again, that we are all standing on the shoulders of giants — forget this and you will be left behind).

For me it begs the Myst (or Narnia) question of whether we are creating new things or whether we are (re?)discovering things that have always been around, but that we’ve forgotten or never noticed.

It’s a kick to watch this reduction toward simplicity (HTTP, XHTML, web services, AJAX, etc.) generate things that are nearly mystical (Web 2.0, The Long Tail, Kurtzweil’s spiritual machine musings, and other rings of power).

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