TITLE: On Presentations, Slides, and Talks AUTHOR: Eugene Wallingford DATE: January 21, 2006 2:38 PM DESC: ----- BODY: Someone on the SIGCSE mailing list recently requested a reference for a presentation at a past conference that had suggested we teach concepts that had "staying power". He had looked through past proceedings for the paper with no success. It turns out there wasn't a paper, because the presentation had been the 1997 keynote talk by Andrew Tanenbaum, who that year received the SIGCSE award for Outstanding Contributions to Computer Science Education. Fortunately, Prof. Tanenbaum has posted the slides of his talk on his web site. Of course, reading Tanenbaum's presentation slides is not the same experience at all as hearing his talk as a live performance. Whenever I come across a conference proceedings, I run through the table of contents to see what all happened at the conference. The titles of the keynote addresses and invited talks always look so inviting, and the speakers are usually distinguished, so I turn to the listed page for a paper on the topic of the presentation... only to find at most a one-page abstract of the talk. Sometimes there is no page number at all, because the the proceedings carry no other record of the talk. This has made me appreciate very much those invited speakers who write a paper to accompany their talks. Of course, reading a paper is not the same experience at all as hearing a talk live, either. But written text can say so much more than the cute graphics and bullet points that constitute most speakers' presentation slides. And for a talk that is done right -- such as Alan Kay's lectures at OOPSLA 2004 -- the presentation materials are so dynamic that the slides convey even less of the talk's real value. (The best way Alan could share his talk materials would be to make the Squeak image he used available for download!) I think that this is why I like to write such complete notes for the talks I attend, to capture as best I can the experience and thoughts I have in real-time. Having a blog motivates me, too, as it becomes a distribution outlet that justifies even more a job done better. This is also why I like to write detailed lecture notes, a lá book chapters, for my courses. I write them as much for me as for my students, though the students give me an immediate reason to write and receive what I hope is a substantial benefit. -----