Presentation Porn

A post called Presentation Porn has left me wondering if the use of the word porn in the title will mean it gets more views than any of the other posts. But it isn’t pornographic so you don’t have to ban the page or anything like that.

Ever read 43 Folders? Right up there on the front page it says “43 Folders is Merlin Mann’s site about personal productivity” and it carries lots of tips to make you better at stuff. Not better at the high jump or getting to the next level on Donkey Kong but better at stuff like remembering to cancel the papers when you are going on holiday and dealing with the 75,000 emails generated at work over a weekend while you’re sleeping. 43 folders can help you get over procrastination and clear your clutter (like Dawna Walter but without the Crusher). If I was pretending to be down with the kids then I’d say it’s cool which would only go to prove that I never was ‘down with the kids’. But it is a great site.

I digress.

I was sat at work last week, feeling tired one lunch break after ploughing through however many hundred emails were in my inbox that morning thinking that, like Nat West, there must be another way (see reference to free stuff here) when I weave my wandering web way to 43 Folder’s inbox zero pages. I think the uber cool refer to it as izero (or is it i-zero?) but we’ve established I am not uber anything.

Now, I know what you’re thinking and it proves you are a smart cookie who can jump ahead in a story like this one. You’re thinking that I read inbox zero and got my inbox to zero right then and there while eating a Coronation Chicken bap and a caramel square. Admit it, that’s what you were thinking was next. And I don’t want to spoil your opinion of yourself so, yeah, I did that (and I was eating that). It’s neat (see, down with the kids) but anybody can do it if you hit delete and pretend the server must have crashed on that important email from your boss.

It’s not the point. The point is also not that I sat and hit the delete key several hundred times while watching Merlin’s Inbox Zero presentation (yeah, right, like I don’t know about shift-delete) and felt good about myself. If you want to achieve the Zen like state of inbox zero (sorry, izero) then watch the video. Merlin is presenting to, what I imagine to be, some brainy people at Googleplex and I am not sure if they are taking it in or not. I imagined the really brainy folks would have asked more questions than they did. Not sure what that says about them. Probably says there were eating a Coronation Chicken bap and a caramel square (which, I gather, are free at the ‘plex).

And now to the key point some 460 or so words into this little piece (don’t count the words, I edited a bit and so that number, while once real, now resembles something I made up). Merlin’s presentation is great. Really good. But it’s not just good because it helps you get to an i0 state (i0, I just thought of that). No, I mean it’s a really good presentation.

I should write about my presentations. I think I will. But not now because I am talking about Merlin’s presentation (if I use only his first name it’s like we hang together, right? I’m way cool). It’s a done properly (his presentation, not the hanging). The slides are illustrations and there are more pictures than words (pictures are good for recall, apparently). He doesn’t use the slides as a safety net in case something is forgotten. No, they illuminate and reinforce his points. They are there as visual support. I mean that his slides are not his presentation. What he says is the presentation. The slides are, if you will, the side slide show. Useful, entertaining but not the star attraction.

This really shouldn’t be such a revelation but it’s an almighty, lightening strike of a revelation. I’ve sat through hundreds of presentations. Hell, I’ve given hundreds of presentations and few, so very few, are like this. By which I mean most are rubbish (including some, although not all, of mine). It jumped off the screen at me.

I got so wrapped up in it that I had people standing around wondering what I was watching and how I could be so attentive and engaged by a video on the web. So, go watch it. It’s presentation porn, if you will (although you’ll learn more and there’s much less grunting).

Links for 25 March 2006

Links from 25th March 2006 featuring doing what you love.

My Delicious link today is a piece by Paul Graham on doing what you love. Is it possible?

To do something well you have to like it. That idea is not exactly novel. We’ve got it down to four words: “Do what you love.” But it’s not enough just to tell people that. Doing what you love is complicated.

Dreams of the Downsized

Today I understood how the internet was built up and how it failed to deliver on those dreams for many people. What was sad were the changes that have happened to the online group over the last year. Gone are the product managers, most developers and many of the other staff. They are now much, much smaller than they were.

I went to see a client this morning: nothing too unusual in that fact. It was a client I have worked with over several years – the internet arm of a well-known organisation. Again, nothing too exceptional. Nice chat, coffee and new product overview (from my part). As I had not seen them for a while, I thought it would be nice to go back. Now, don’t get me wrong, it was great to see people there. What was sad were the changes that have happened to the online group over the last year. Gone are the product managers, most developers and many of the other staff. They are now much, much smaller than they were.

Again, nothing to unusual in this but today it struck me as sad. The ideas and the passion, the desire to make something happen and be part of it that all those people had – gone. How many people in so-called new media industries have been through it (some, several times)? I have been through the cut-back mill as people around me are “downsized” in order to allow companies to survive. Yet, today – I think – was the first day the scale of it struck me. I can’t really explain it and I am not sure that I want to try but today I think I understood how the internet was built up and how it failed to deliver on those dreams for many people.

The “why” of it all is a different story for a different day. Today is about the good people who have moved on. Hopefully, they’re doing better.