Isn’t it funny how technology can seem state-of-the-art one minute and clunky the next?
Anyone old enough to remember the original mobile phones will know what I mean. They were bulky, awkward to handle, the size of a brick and almost as heavy; a far cry from today’s streamlined dreams.
Videotapes seemed pretty cool when they first came out. But then there were DVDs, allowing you to go instantly to the precise scene you wanted, without laboriously winding or rewinding tape. They also never spilled their guts out or got caught in the machine.
The same evolution can be seen in presentations. First there was the blackboard, then the flipchart, then the overhead projector. (That probably seemed cool when it first came out, but it really wasn’t – especially if you were standing next to it.)
Next came PowerPoint, which was of course a mighty leap forward compared to all that stuff.
But there’s never a final word in technology. There’s always something else waiting in the wings. And in today’s world, it usually doesn’t have to wait long.
There’s a new piece of kit on the market called Prezi, which describes itself as the zooming presentation tool. If you haven’t heard of it, it’s worth checking out at www.prezi.com.
Harvard Business called it “Insanely great” (which I think is a compliment), while Technology Madness described it as “a wow” (which definitely is).
This raises two questions. What’s different about it? And will it make other presentation tools look as outdated as top-loading VCRs?
The first question is easy to answer. Prezi is a nonlinear tool that allows you to create presentations in a more interesting way. Instead of building up through slides, Prezi allows you to present an overview, go down to features and then further down to focus on details, all on one big ‘canvas’. And it can also let you publish your presentation on the web.
Link to http://prezi.com/oezslt5tzqub/
As to the second question, that’s much more difficult. We all know that the history of technology is littered with numerous electronic equivalents of the dodo. Some of these ideas looked good at the time, like Betamax video, for example. But for one reason or another, they ended up in the elephant’s graveyard.
Will Prezi be fit enough to survive, and even displace rivals like PowerPoint? It does have a lot going for it: in the hands of a boring presenter, PowerPoint’s linear approach, all boxes and straight lines, can be a turn-off. Prezi is eye-catching, and some students and audiences have really taken to it.
On the negative side, its controls are different, and although they can be learned in ten minutes, according to the makers, they do take some getting used to. And the way it whizzes around the screen could be distracting rather than enhancing for some messages.
Link to http://prezi.com/gxnef5on5xzr/
I don’t think Prezi will be consigning PowerPoint to history; PowerPoint is too useful for that, and in the right hands, certainly not boring. But Prezi does offer some interesting approaches that might be worth trying out.
In the end, of course, the users will decide. So why not check it out today and see what you think?
Thanks to Kevin McAllister at the University of Washington, Seattle who brought this to our attention.
By David Vickery