Glencora Borradaile






         Associate Professor & College of Engineering Dean's Professor, School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Oregon State University

August 14, 2010

Experience Theory Project and Prezi

I’m participating in the Experience Theory Project at the University of Washington right now.

ETP is an event for undergraduates with talent and interest in theoretical computer science, sponsored by the theory groups at the University of Washington and Microsoft Research. The purpose of the event is to exchange ideas about exciting results and research directions in theoretical computer science, and enjoy Seattle in all its summer glory.

Anna Karlin is organizing and asked me to join in.  It’s a great group of students and a great excuse to spend some time at UW and MSR.  There have been about 15 technical talks aimed at senior-year, bright undergrads.1 In an attempt to minimize the time I spend designing talks, I used a new presentation method – Prezi.  I’ve used it before and was perhaps a little too excited about it. As critics would point out, I didn’t take full advantage of Prezi:  I designed this poster2 in Illustrator with a tablet, exported to Prezi as swf and then added “frames” in order to navigate around the poster.  Why?  Prezi was frustrating to work with, figures would have to be uploaded one by one, jpegs cannot be uploaded in high enough resolution to zoom in on, uploading a pdf plain failed.  I was worried about (lack of) reusability.  At least now I have a reusable poster.

There were a few technical issues: I couldn’t use a remote to run the presentation; I forgot to manually set the “sleep” time on my laptop (accustomed to this being automatically set by Keynote); manual navigation sometimes did unexpected, non-deterministic things.  Prezi was cute and flashy, but I wouldn’t use it for a longer talk or a more technical talk.  Overall, I wouldn’t recommend it.

1 The level of the talks, at least on topics of which I am the least informed, was perfect for me – a gentle introduction.  Disconcerting, maybe.  Perhaps I am just too slow to follow the standard (short) technical talk in our field.
2 Which I hope to print out on a plotter and put up in my department. Look! Pretty pictures!

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