Blog Pile

The Last PowerPoint (well maybe mine)

Hah! I bet I fooled you into thinking this was another rant against evil PowerPoint, eh? Nope, I actually just used it. Here is another series of loosely connected events I try to frame as a “story”.

I had seen, perhaps tweeted. that Slideshare (‘the YouTube of PowerPoints) was running a World’s Best Presentation contest. As I like Slideshare as a web service, I smiled, and moved on.

Then a few days ago I got an email from someone I did not know asking me to vote for their presentation in said contest. This is typically an email that goes directly to the trash (do not pass go, do not collect my attention), but for some odd reason it clicked.

To quote Bill the Cat, my reaction was “Aaaaack” – the one I saw was so bad and smarmy I almost lost my breakfast. So I hit the button the banner to see the next entry. It was worse! And number 3 was somewhere in between.

Note I am not linking to these (but love linking to Beth Kanter’s entry– she had me at dogs, and hers is a winner)- no reason really to shame someone who may have meant well- but I thought perhaps they had mis-read the rules that this was the “Worst Slideshow Competition”.

So felt one of those urges of a blog entry coming… or maybe that I could craft something worthy.. not for the prizes (yuck, who wants a Mac AirBook?) (me) but just as a self dare to come up with something different.

Then the thought fled away for a few hours. Simmered. Percolated. Fermented? My mind wandered to the video a lot of people blogged about more than a year ago (I had not yet seen it, often I am a bit late to a meme)- Randy Pausch’s Last Lecture.

If you have not watched this video, stop reading my blather right now, close the window and go off and take in what may be the most inspirational presentation ever. His story is amazing as is his strength and passion for teaching. And living. I am not giving any of it away.

Update: How eerie sad. Three days after this post was published, Randy passed away. Oh my.

And then I thought, surely someone had done a riff on this like “the last presentation”. Nope.

Thus I found my hook- The Last PowerPoint:

The extra hook I was going to provide was adding a stream of running commentary in the notes field in PowerPoint, which I thought was uploaded and published with a SlideShare (am I totally imagining this was ever a feature??).

You see one of my gripes is that often people blog about or email a link to a presentation file and when you try to watch it, generally you find that the Presentation File is Not the Presentation — it often does not stand on its own, not without a synced or linked audio file, or alternatively, some captions or notes to contextualize the slides. This is compounded more by new styles that are largely graphic imagery rather than text (which is a welcome change), but s stream of funky images does not give me much information content.

So in my “Last PowerPoint” PowerPoint I loaded the notes with paragraphs, links, even some funny (I thought) stabs at Guy Kawasaki, who is a judge for this year’s contest.

I stayed up way to late finishing it, uploaded it, and Poof! There were no notes! All that extra snark went away, and I was crestfallen. Actually I just said frig it and went to sleep.

But I could not rest with my work partly done.

So to set up the presentation as I intended it, I posted it as a flickr set, with the full notes as captions:

Actually I like flickr as a slide show archiver, so in the end…

So will I win a contest? I dont care. I just wanted to have some fun. Will anyone find my humor funny? Also questionable. Did I really make a point or say something I really honor? Its awfully hard to even think one can achieve the things that Randy Pausch did– but as his better message goes, you gotta try, and those brick walls are there for a good reason.

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An early 90s builder of the web and blogging Alan Levine barks at on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person.


  1. I really liked looking at the slides in Flickr with your notes. I have wondered when I have seen slideshows without notes and wondered how anyone could think it would mean anything to me.

  2. I will definitely share this with my colleagues, who love bullets and charts yet complain about spending too much time at pointless meetings. Thanks!

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