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This isn’t just a library, it’s an M&S library…

30 Aug

So they want to put libraries in supermarkets, eh? Well that could work – depends on the supermarket. Iceland – maybe not. Kerry Katona eating snack-sized party favourites whilst dead-eyededly telling Jason Donavon about how she saved 33% on her access to SWETS resources, equals bad.

But Marks & Spencer, on the other hand…

With deliciously free Wifi access, and an achingly gooey selection of online resources wrapped up in gorgeous single sign-in, presented on a bed of modern, bright interior with brightly coloured children’s areas, filled choc-full of tender, flavoursome books, CDs and DVDs and more…

Etc etc.

Anyway, I’m behind. I only get online for short periods of time at the moment. But today I’ve had an hour or so to catch up with the latest headline grabbing library statistics, which equate to a drop in public library use in this country. I’ve got a big old blog post on statistics planned when I get more of an opportunity – in the mean time though, Ian Clark’s piece is essential reading for everyone – read it now! :) The part of it that is really interesting is statistics from CIPFA show that while library footfall is indeed down, the numbers of web visits is up (from 07/08 to 08/09) by a massive 49%. A hypothesis immediately presents itself – the way people use libraries is changing, they don’t have to visit them so often due to the accessibility that comes with internet access (not least because they can renew book loans online – that alone accounts for a huge amount of library visits no longer necessary), so although visits to the building are down, the use of the library per se is not.

Sadly, the Government – or, to be more specific, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport – have NOT chosen to take into account internet access in the report which forms the basis for the recent headlines. Take a look at the report for yourself – you can download the spreadsheets detailing the figures, as well as the actual Word document with all the analysis, here. It’s 2010, yet the report only looks at library use from the point of view of whether its subject, to quote it directly, ‘Has visited a public library in the last year’.

[snarky aside] Guess how I accessed this report? Online. So does that mean that, according to this report’s way of analysing ‘use’, I haven’t read it at all because I didn’t go to Westminster in person and pick up a paper copy?

Buffoons. [/snarky aside]

Anyway, the figures are quite interesting – mainly fairly miserable reading, but the clouds part to let some light through on occasion:

  • Black and ethnic minority use of libraries is up since last year (it’s only by less than half a percent, but hey, no one reads the details of these things anyway, right?)
  • People who are religious but who don’t classify themselves as Christian’s use of libraries is up since last year (same again with it being by only a tiny amount, but still)
  • 11-15 year old girls use the library quite a bit more than they did in 2006/07 when the figures were first collected
  • The number of 5 to 10 year olds (of both sexes) who have visited the library ‘in the last we’ek has gone up by more than 20% over last year…

HA! Stick that in your pipe and smoke it, doom-mongers! On a serious note, I think that’s encouraging – good to see that even during a down-turn in overall visitation, some minority groups are finding more reasons to visit than before. Incidentally, the report says, more than once, “The decrease in library visits is consistent across all socio-demographic groups.” Maybe I’m missing something, but that seems quite a sweeping statement in light of the stats above. If the report itself glosses over any positives, what hope is there of the headlines picking up on anything other than the negatives? In the same Ian Clark blog post I linked to above, he makes another point I think is interesting, true, and very important: “…the narrative is not being controlled by the profession but by those who either do not understand the service or are trying to undermine it for their own ends.” In this case, the Government itself is undermining the service with a report whose own headline conclusions are apparently determined to see only the negative even where the figures can be seen positively – it doesn’t take much of a cynic to interpret this as a classic Tory ‘softening up’ before they unleash massive cuts. Happy days. How can we take back control of the narrative?

Interestingly, the sample size used to generate the recent, poor figures, are much, much lower than the sample size of the earlier ones. Does that mean the figures are wrong? Probably not, but they are certainly slightly less valid than the original ones – asking 6,000 people about their library use does not represent England nearly as well as asking nearer 30,000. Some of the regions surveyed are only represented by a couple of hundred respondents. Anyway.

Libraries in pubs and supermarkets? Yeah, why not.

Among the proposals the Government are considering is sticking libraries into pubs and supermarkets apparently. This has perhaps understandably met with some derision from the library community. But actually, I think this idea is considering.

Providing the pub and shop branches didn’t replace actual purpose-built libraries, why not take our resources to where the people are already? After all, that’s why social media works so well – that’s why we all love Twitter. Because we’re on Twitter anyway, so the news, views, links etc come to us. So why not follow a similar principle with libraries? Clearly the part of libraries that would easily transport to other venues is mainly going to be the traditional ‘borrow a book’ part – but that’s okay, it will get people interested, and maybe, just maybe, they’ll be tempted to visit the library proper and see what else we have to offer.

Maybe there’ll even be a Halo Effect! (See the comments section of this previous blog post.) So to use the example in that link, the National Archive digitise collections, and then withdraw them from circulation in order to preserve them. They do this on an epic scale; more and more gets digitised every day. The statistical upshot of this is fascinating – physical consultation of the actual collections they digitise goes down (in most cases to near zero), but physical consultation overall goes up. People are finding what they want online, and they get so hooked and interested that they end up requesting other stuff which hasn’t been digitised, so they have to go to TNA to see it in the paper. Digital use and paper use are both way up, together.

Perhaps it is worth, then, trying to embrace the idea of libraries in different places and ensure it’s done well so we can reap any benefits, rather than just assuming it’s a completely hopeless idea…

- thewikiman

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LIS New Professionals Network

23 Aug

I’ve been saying for a while that I was going to write a post about LISNPN, the New Professionals Network launched in July. Various other topics kept coming up, and then this rather through things out of kilter:

Picture of baby Emily in a cot

This is Emily, monopoliser of time and bringer of w00tyness

…but I’m getting back on track now – Emily is sat next to me as I type this, gurgling (which is to say she’s gurgling – I’m more or less silent) – so here goes.

Overview

LISNPN is a network for people working in the library sector, who have joined the profession in the last decade or so. You don’t need to be qualified, you don’t need to be young. Even if you joined the profession ages ago you may still get something out of providing advice for the rest of us, and certainly we’d love to have you – Phil Bradley  and Biddy Fisher (CILIP President) have joined, for example, and we’re thrilled. So it’s a very inclusive network.

For now it’s purely an online thing, but it may evolve to a face-to-face event as early as this year.

The idea of it is basically to provide space for newish professional(ish)s to interact, get advice, give guidance, and download a bunch of useful resources that have been created for the network – these include guides on getting published, interview technique and public speaking, and anonymous reviews of LIS Masters courses, etc etc. We’re particularly keen to bring people together who don’t normally use social media much – if you’re reading this and you don’t have a website or a blog and don’t use twitter, dip your toe in the online waters with LISNPN! We’ll be very nice. :)

Meet the team

LISNPN is run by me and Chris Rhodes and Emma Illingworth, with support from a whole host of other people. Laura Woods, Bethan Ruddock, Jo Alcock, Rachel Bickley, JoBo Anderson and Debbie Morris, are all official signed up administrators who are helping out with the site. In addition to this we’ve got further support from some regional New Professional Support Officers, plus occasional guest spots from people like Lizzie Russell, of Sue Hill Recruitment, who kindly wrote us our interview guide. The idea is there are enough people, with enough areas of expertise, to keep the site running and to hook people up to answers for their questions (in true Info Pro style) whoever is around, and even if one of the admins, say, has a baby three weeks early which totally knocks his plans for six!

Facts & Figures

The network’s membership increases every day – currently it stands at just over 460 people. The most we’ve ever had visit in one day was 208 people online, and we get around 700 page views a day at the moment (peaking at 2,408 on the same day as all those people were online).

What’s interesting, for me, is monitoring what has the most impact on new people joining, as LISNPN has been promoted via print media, twitter, blogs, and JISCmail lists – with the latter proving far and away the biggest catalyst for membership surges. We’ve not yet promoted via LIS-LINK but we will do soon, and that will probably net another bunch of new people. We want to pursue as many avenues as possible not just because more people equals a more useful network, but also because we want to go beyond our own little echo chamber, and get more than just the people we already hang out online with involved. So, obviously I’d urge you to join if you’ve not already done so, but also tell your LIS friends and colleagues..

Getting the most out of it

I’m planning a more detailed guide to getting the most out of LISNPN that I’ll put on the site itself, but for now here’s the four main things:

  • Subscribe to the blog. The blog is in part a New Professionals blog written by Chris Rhodes (CILIP’s New Professionals Coordinator) and in part updates about the site. It’s the easiest way to keep up with changes to the network, new features, documents going into the resources area, and so on. Here is the link to subscribe – if you add the LISNPN blog to your Google Reader you’ll be glad you did…
  • If you use Twitter, follow @LISNPN. The twitter arm of LISNPN is run by Rachel and Jo, and carries a mixture of previews of new forum posts, and links to LIS jobs. What more do you need!
  • Put something in your profile. LISNPN is a Network at heart – its primary aim is to facilitate networking between like-minded Information Professionals. If you add a profile pic and put some basic info about yourself (such as the sector you work in and where you’re based – no one is expecting star-sign, life story and names of pets) it’ll help this aspect of things.
  • Subscribe in the forum. This is harder to explain succinctly – basically there is a subscribe button that appears in the top right hand corner of every thread in the forum. If you click it, then you ‘subscribe’ to every thread you contribute to in the forum – it works exactly the same as subscribing to comments on a blog, in that you receive email notifications with a brief excerpt of the replies posted in the threads you’ve posted in thereafter. Subscribing once turns this service on for all threads in the forum that you are involved with; unsubscribing can happen at any time just by clicking the button, and stops the email notifications for all threads. It’s a really good way to make sure you keep involved with the conversations that interest you. Here is screen grab with the subscribe button highlighted – go click it for yourself now!

    LISNPN forum screen-grab

    The forum subscribe button. And the TRUE FACE of @CILIPInfo! OMG!

Reasons to Join

In the ‘inclusive’ spirit of the Network, we’ve not locked it down. Most of it is available to members and non-members alike, the idea that a new professional browsing Google might stumble upon the answer to their query in a link to a LISNPN forum post or whatever. Some forums, however, such as the one for current LIS students, are only viewable for members (the idea being you can write what you like about your course without worrying that your tutor might happen upon it!) and the Resources area is likewise something you need to be signed in to see. So, if you don’t want to create a profile, you don’t have to – but to get the most out of the network it is most definitely worth joining.

Future plans

There’s all sorts of ways in which this could develop, but the most important thing is that it serves the needs of the members  – so if you have ideas, suggestions or wish-lists, please let me know: email me, or suggest them in the dedicted LISNPN suggestions forum on the Network.

I’m also keen to explore how LISNPN can keep the current cohort of New Professionals together when they / we go over to that middle ground between ‘new’ and ‘senior’ pros.

URL for LISNPN: http://www.lisnpn.spruz.com/

- thewikiman

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taking a hit for the (library) team

04 Aug

NB: have renamed this blog post; it used to be called why we can’t help mixing our messages

A picture of an old library, on a 'Modern Libs' magazine

Mixed message

Woodsiegirl and I referred to the excellent M Word library marketing blog a lot in our Echo Chamber presentation – if you’ve got any interest in the marketing / advocacy side of libraries at all, it’s an essential subscribe. One of the things we quoted was a recent post on mixing your messages – one example being with regards to (arguably out-dated) policies:

“Come in and spend the afternoon here, but don’t bring anything to eat or drink!”
“We’re all about new technology, but turn off those cell phones!”
“Please use our resources, but if you owe more than $2.00 in fines, you can’t borrow anything.”

Kathy Dempsey (who wrote the piece) makes the point that all these policies are there for a reason, but we must continually reasses that reasoning and make sure it’s still valid. My own view, and I made this point in the Echolib presentation, is that it might be worth taking a hit for the greater good. Which is to say, if we relax our rules, and downgrade the sanctity of the book, then the losses this will cause in terms of alienating some users and allowing a minority to basically take the mickey out of us, may be worthwhile for the gains in terms of repositioning the library as a more welcoming, modern and inclusive facility.

My own local library in York has just reopened after refurbishment, as an ‘Explore’ Library Learning Centre’ – cue predictable hurrumphing about the name. I’m fine with it, of course – rebranding is part of what needs to happen to libraries, and while no one wants to alienate core users, if there is a net gain in patronage then that’s a good thing in what are change-or-die times for the public library sector. Anyway, I decided I needed to use my local library more as this blog often talks about library advocacy, so I went along to check it out – it’s actually really ace! There’s no specific entrance or exit, which is really nice (don’t ask me how they stop people stealing books) – you just walk into the building and are met with several doors in a semi-circle, all leading straight to books and other resources. All books are RFID’d so the self-service machines seem like magic to those not familiar with that technology (“You don’t have to scan anything, it just knows what you’ve put in it!”) and there is, of course, a very nicely appointed new cafe. My top tip for local library usage: have the Amazon app on your phone, so you can check your wishlist when you’re in there. No more ‘my mind has gone blank – what do I want to read again?’ moments. :)

To get to my point about mixing messages – I was marvelling at all this, and remembering one of the presentations from NPC2010, and thinking to myself, not for the first time: I have pretty much none of the required skills to work here. I’ve got a good job, in a library, yet never in a million years could I get even an interview at York public library, because the skills-set, the neccessary experience, and the day-to-day activities are so different from mine. I said this to my wife, and she said ‘yes but you don’t do normal librarian stuff do you?’ I know what she meant (that I work in the digital arena more than anything) but really there IS no normal librarian stuff – there IS no role which constitutes an ‘average’ for a library worker. So it’s no wonder we can’t help mixing our messages, because our messages are just so diverse. How can we get across what we do to those outside our echo-chamber if we don’t even have much in common with our own peers? It’s tough to consolidate all of our activities into a single marketable nugget – although, as I’ve suggested before (.PDF), the two threads which seem to run through 90% of jobs whose salary is paid by the library are the use of IT, and problem solving.

When people think of ‘a librarian’ they think of front-of-house staff, either on the counter or the enquiries desk. I wonder what percentage of staff in the industry actually do that stuff?

- thewikiman

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Prezi For The Win? Ten Top Tips To Make a Good One

29 Jul

Update, May 2013: I’ve re-updated a newer guide to Prezi, actually in Prezi itself:

See also: 6 useful things Prezi can which even experienced users miss

————

The ten tips of the title are near the top of this post – it’s quite long, so don’t worry about reading the examples bit if you just want the nuts and bolts.

[Update: I've also created a slide-deck which acts as a simpler version of this post - you can read and view it here. It also includes a more advanced Prezi with screen-grabs detailing how it was made.]

I’ve created or had a hand in creating three Prezis that have made it into the public arena (plus some previous attempts that I’ve deleted). Prezi has its critics, but I like it a lot – it’s nice to engage people in a different way to what they’re used to. A lot of librarians seem fed up with it but remember, the people you are presenting to might not necessarily be blasé and weary Info Pros! I’ve seen people literally blown away by a good Prezi, particularly after Laura and I used one for our Echo Chamber presentation – if someone hasn’t seen one before, and you make a good one, chances are they’ll be interested in a way that PowerPoint simply couldn’t achieve. Good Prezis are arresting. In fact, in the same way that the whole ‘death by PowerPoint’ thing can actually obfuscate excellent content, you can put even average content into a nice Prezi and people will be still be excited to engage with it.

Incidentally, if this top 10 tips had to be just a top 1, it would be: a good Prezi is a balance between exploiting the capabilities of the medium, and ensuring these capabilities don’t become and end in themselves.

Ten Top Tips

  1. Create your structure first, fill in the details afterwards. Think of your presentation like a building – you need to create the foundations and the structure first, and you need to know the outline before you start building. Think about what your top-down canvas view will be like before you start – this is what people will see before your presentation begins (either in person or embedded online), so it is important for it to look striking and draw the viewer in, and for it to function in support of your subject matter. Don’t try and design it as you go along, like Ellen Paige in Inception
  2. Make your sections bigger than you think you need to. Just trust me on this. You won’t believe how often you think you’ve made something massive, but ending up having to cram loads and loads of other stuff into the same space, and wishing you’d make it bigger in the first place. Remember, the Prezi canvas is to all intents and purposes unlimited in size – everything looks the same size when zoomed in on to fill the screen anyway. So don’t be afraid to make your title absolutely enormous if you’re fitting the structure of the presentation into the same width, as with Example Two, below. The first time I created that title it was about a fifth the size of what it ended up being.
  3. Choose your colour scheme well, and choose it early. Unlike almost all other software we’re used to using, Prezi does not allow an infinite range of possibilities in terms of fonts and colours. This is either a blessing or a curse depending on how creative you are. But as there are only a handful of options, there’s really no excuse for not choosing the one which best embodies the feel of what you are trying to say. The way the visuals work is, you use the same building blocks to create the presentation (so the shapes, the frames, the arrows, the text) and then change their style / colour scheme en masse. You can’t have, say, pink titles and black body text on a blue background, because that ‘theme’ doesn’t exist.  So, choose from what they have – if it’s a serious presentation, don’t use the jaunty font one. Similarly if what you’re doing is quite colloquial, that weird sort of Soviet-chic theme probably isn’t for you. Or maybe it is! But do think about it properly.The reason I’ve said do this early is, different ‘title’ or ‘body’ texts are different sizes on the different themes. So for example if you have your titles nested inside circular shapes, like in Example Three below, then changing the theme after you’ve carefully arranged these into the circles will probably ruin it, by making the text stick out over the boundaries of the circles, or be too small. Decide on what you’re doing early on, and stick with it.
  4. Position your materials sympathetically to avoid motion-sickness. There’s no point in using Prezi if you’re just going to stick a load of paragraphs of text on the canvas at random, then plot a path between them. You may as well use PowerPoint as you’re not exploiting the platform at all, and it’ll probably leave the viewer slightly queasy.If you arrange your materials sympathetically, it’s better for everyone. So try and move progressively and consistently between items – from A to B to C, in a horizontal row or vertically or even in a circle, rather than from A – Y – D all over the place, wildly oscillating around the canvas. It’s nice that Prezi will tilt to read everything as though it’s horizontal – it’s fun to have a diagonal line of text and then a horizontal one, so that it zooms excitingly between them. But try and limit the number of these you have in a presentation – changes of direction should be a neat special effect to punctuate your presentation, not the norm.There is a reason people get motion-sick on trains / trams far less than they do in cars, and it’s to do with consistency of motion and the effect this has on the inner ear. Gradually accelerating train = fine, even if you’re facing backwards; lurchy stop-starty car on a country lane = sick inducing even if you’re in the front. So be consistent in your movements on your Prezi, and choose the path of least deviation as far as possible.
  5. Reign in your ambition! Most Prezis suffer from the giddy excitement that comes from exploring a new medium. Oooh look, I can do this! And OMG, THIS! But consider if you really need to have that bit where the whole thing turns upside down and then on its side – if it serves as some kind of visual metaphor then great, but if it doesn’t then keep things on an even keel.To return to the building analogy, let’s take a kitchen as an example. Most people’s kitchens are a compromise between the gadgets they’ve always wanted and the gadgets they can afford – so,  like 99% of humans in the Western World, I have a cafe-style toasted sandwich maker hidden away in a cupboard somewhere (FTW). I would also love an ice-maker, a massive espresso-machine, maybe a nice stereo in there, probably not a TV but an ice-cream maker, maybe a soda-stream, a lovely bread maker, plus my wife has her eye on one of those massive pink SMEG fridges – but we can’t afford any of those things. If we won the lottery and I actually went out and bought all of those, and put them in our little kitchen, it would be terrible! It would look rubbish, be over crowded, I’d never use half of them, they’d lose their specialness and value among so many other gadgets, and ultimately the actual Kitchen itself would cease to function in the way I needed it to.That’s what Prezi is like. :) Just because you have the freedom to do lots of bonkers stuff, doesn’t mean you should – or that it’ll make the presentation better.
  6. …but still employ at least one extreme change of scale… Epic scale changes are ace. Prezi can go REALLY big and REALLY small, so it’s a nice thing to zoom in on something people won’t have guessed is there from the top-down view at the start. In Example Three, below, check out the zooming in on the dot of the eye to show my logo and my web address (thus getting across essential information without changing the top-down look of the Prezi), and in Example Two, look out for the angry, ill looking twitter bird that comes in the Examples of Failure section. W00t! It completely dwarfs the rest of the presentation, and is then itself dwarfed by some text (and this is a visual metaphor – I’m saying that the fact that twitter goes mad about library misconceptions but none of this anger is heard or understood outside the realm of the library, dwarfs much of our excellent efforts towards defending the profession). When Laura and I presented our echo-chamber ideas using this Prezi, we actually had to pause for a while and wait for the laughter at the blood-shot and drooling bird to subside…
  7. Achieve uniformity of style by using ‘duplicate’ then ‘edit’. Because of the way in which you can move the mouse to make items bigger or smaller, it’s actually quite hard to get two different sections of text or shapes to be the same size – it’s not like PowerPoint when you can pick a font size and stick to it. But in a lot of cases it does look better if your headings are the same size, so are you main body of text sections, etc. The easiest way to ensure uniformity is to get the first example of something to the size you want it, then ‘duplicate’ it – this will produce a second example exactly the same size, which you can then edit to say whatever you want. Then duplicate and edit that, and so on and so on.
  8. Use PDFs, not JPEGs – and remember every image will fill the screen. Prezi does not like Gifs or JPEGs – it prefers PDFs for whatever reason. Every single image on all the Prezi’s I’ve made has been a PDF because it looks so, so much crisper. This is a faff, but worthwhile – either use Photoshop if you have it to save images as PDFs, or use Zamzar online file conversion – it’s free.A lot of people complain that Prezi makes images look grainy or low-res (and indeed it does, with JPEGs, hence the use of PDFs) but there is a reason for this. Prezi is a zooming presentation platform; it literally zooms in and fills the screen with whatever you click on or tell it to look at. So if you’ve got a little 10px by 10px picture, it’s going to be shown far, far bigger than is ideal when Prezi zooms right in on it – hence it’ll look grainy. When, for example, taking a screen grab you want to feature as an image, don’t crop the screen-grab down to the bare-minimum – try and leave enough of an image so Prezi doesn’t have to focus in too close.This is hard to explain, do you get what I mean by this? Basically, anything smaller than what fills your screen in its original context, may look a bit shonky on Prezi when it is enlarged to fill your screen in a Prezi context – just like if you zoom in on any picture and start to see the pixels, or just shove your face really close to a newspaper. This issue is exacerbated when your presentation fills a big-screen at a conference venue. So, no tiny pics, okay?
  9. Specifics: Moving a bunch of stuff at once with the Shift key, creating proper hyperlinks by duplicating, using frames, and embedding youtube vids. Often you can spend ages assembling a little cluster of materials, only to find they need to be moved – and if you select one you can move it, but then you have to go back and move all the rest, and this is annoying and takes ages. I did this for months, then Laura pointed out that if I’d read the manual I’d've known you just have to press and hold then Shift key on your keyboard, then use the mouse to draw a box round the group of items you want to move collectively. This saves ages of time.For reasons I don’t understand, hyperlinks don’t appear most times you type a URL into Prezi.  It just remains as www.whatever.com rather than www.don’tactuallyclickthis.com. However, if you ‘duplicate’ the relevant section, the new version will have hyperlinked URLs. I don’t know why this is, but it’s an acceptable work-around for an annoying problem – just delete the original, and move the duplicate into the right position.Using frames well is important to a decent Prezi. As the name suggests, Frames just frame a section of the Prezi to be zoomed in on and fill the screen – they can be visible frames, or invisible. Invisible is often better. If you have a picture, some title text and some body text in a cluster, if you just click on one of them when plotting the ‘path’ of the Prezi it’ll zoom right in on that at the expense of the others. If you frame all three objects together, it’ll zoom in on the framed trio collectively.Finally, embedding videos – you can embed a few formats of video by uploading them as files, but much easier is to just add a youtube URL as free text. This will automatically embed the video, and you can press play on them when the Prezi path ‘arrives’ at that bit.
  10. Make sure you are the dog, and Prezi is the tail… Should be self-explanatory this one – always make sure Prezi is working for you, not the other way around. You chose Prezi because it serves a function for you – if it doesn’t serve that function in practice, or using it drives you mad with frustration, then ditch it! Don’t let the tail wag the dog – pick materials that suit this presentation platform, but don’t let the medium dictate to you what you’re doing.
    .

In addition to all that, I’d add: if you keep a blog, link back from the Prezi to a post which gives a bit more information, and bit of context. Prezis make people want to know more.

Examples

Example one is the first one I ever did – for this blog post on tomorrow’s information professionals. It’s had loads of views because it struck a chord with people (plus Prezi.com made it a staff-pick) – the content is good, but actually the presentation is pretty poor. (All of these are best in full-screen mode, but not on automatic)

This is a bit of classic first prezi with all the naivety they tend to bring, and I was very tempted recently to clean it up and make it nicer – people continue to look at it a lot as it is embedded in the most tweeted blog post I’ve ever written. But actually I’ve decided to leave it, for now at least – learning processes are important, and not something we should be ashamed of. Some freaky people do appear to arrive fully-formed and able to do things brilliantly straight-away, but for the rest of us the journey can be quite enjoyable!

So what’s bad about this? The top-down canvas view of the whole thing isn’t particularly interesting, there isn’t much use of anything other than plain text, the big frame thing is quite ugly (you can have invisible frames that achieve the same thing), the massive URL for my website at the end is a little crass and not hyperlinked, and most of all the content is arranged too haphazardly and this makes it too lurchy. The lurching is, I think, the biggest objection people have with Prezi. It IS possible to mitigate this and prevent motion-sickness in your audience, but I did not achieve that here. The snippets of text aren’t really arranged with enough care. More on that sort of thing above.

It’s worth noting that this isn’t a presentation that I’ve ever delivered live. I just used Prezi because I thought I had something interesting to say, and I wanted to say it in a way which would capture people’s imagination a bit more (and allow them to embed it into their own blogs etc). People see a lot of text on blogs, so it’s nice to give them something else once in a while. And it worked, too – the blog post in which the above Prezi is embedded is the second most viewed of all time on this site.

Example two is mine and Laura’s Echolib effort – this had a long gestation period so was actually created in part before and in part after example three. This means I’d learned stuff as I was going along, which made it better.

The different sections of our talk are arranged into a nominal ‘chamber’ shape, with the examples of successful escapes listed outside the walls for a little visual metaphor thing going on… [UPDATE: the presentation did used to be in a nominal chamber shape, but the one you see below is the latest version which has changed.] As we each took a section it was really easy to collaborate when putting this together – we could basically assemble our own nodes (e.g I went away and thought about examples of Failure, then designed that section) and see the other person’s contributions gradually assembling elsewhere.

There is the extreme scale change mentioned above to look out for here, as well as embedded youtube vids. Another thing to note is all the contributions from the room which we added in real-time during the presentation, and the contributions from Twitter, which we added afterwards (having live-tweeted our presentation). Prezi is really easy to edit on the fly, and this particular one will serve as a living archive of useful stuff, perpetually updated as we do this presentation on future occasions.

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