Friday, April 11, 2008

Embrace The Zen Of Presentation And Science Of Powerpoint

The web version 2.0 has a distinctive visual component, as does PowerPoint. One area this weblog has delved into is design. Another area of interest is psychology and brain-science, especially as it relates to communication using web 2.0 technology. Design and psychology can be combined in both web 2.0 and PowerPoint.

I have been interested in finding better ways to communicate using the web 2.0 tools I have been learning. The TEDBlog advised us on 2/19/08 to Embrace the zen of presentation.

Garr Reynolds uses some favorite TED speakers to help others refine, simplify and focus their own presentations and talks in his new book, Presentation Zen.
What makes a great TED speaker?
Passion, connection, a story to tell.

The TEDBlog also told us that on 2/16/08 told us that Brain science makes better PowerPoint, via the io9 blog -- Matthew Trost, using rules might remind you of some of the innovative TEDTalks presentations.

Stephen M. Kosslyn, professor and researcher in mental imagery at Harvard shared some quirkily titled guidelines at AAAS.
  1. The Goldilocks Rule refers to presenting the "just right" amount of data. Never include more information than your audience needs in a visual image.
  2. The Rudolph Rule refers to simple ways you can make information stand out and guide your audience to important details
  3. The Rule of Four is a simple but powerful tool that grows out of the fact that the brain can generally hold only four pieces of visual information simultaneously.
  4. The Birds of a Feather Rule how to organize information when you want to show things in groups.
"Kosslyn's co-panelist, Stanford psychologist Barbara Tversky, explained that one of the fundamental principles of data visualization is, ironically, misrepresentation in order to get at the truth.
Good to know: The human brain likes to spot differences and oddities -- and it doesn't like to see more than four things at once.

So we use visual designs to tell a story. There have been a number of other articles passing by my computer screen that touch upon how we our brains effect how we communicate, both visually and cognitively.

Embrace The Zen Of Presentation And Science Of Powerpoint pt. 2

Cognitive Daily on 2/19/08 taught us more about the visual system through the anatomy of an illusion.
Take a look at this amazing illusion created by Arthur Shapiro (you'll need the latest version of Flash Player to see it):
You're looking at two donut-shaped figures whose "holes" are gradually changing color from black to white and back again. It appears that the holes are changing in an opposite pattern -- when one is light, the other is dark, and so on. But if you click to remove the surrounding donuts, you'll see that the two holes are actually changing together.
Shapiro calls this the Contrast Asynchrony illusion, and he argues that it can tell us a lot about how the visual system works.

Definitely worthwhile to read the rest of the original post...

Finally, I found a recent study shows that the human brain reacts differently to people that seem like us than to those who don't through via by on 2/7/08

The experimenters used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to scan the brains of Harvard and other Boston-area students while showing them pictures of other college-age people whom the researchers randomly described as either liberal northeastern students or conservative Midwest fundamentalist Christian students.
The study concludes that the secret to getting along with someone that you perceive as an outsider is to find some common ground so that your brain will accept them as someone with similar circumstances.
David Galbraith expands upon what this means for society at large:
In other words, a civilized society depends not on the people who are currently the most civilized, but those who are most willing to accept change, as social or cultural groupings change, split or coalesce. Inevitably this means reasonable people rather than faithful people.

As Garr Reynolds says, "If your idea is worth spreading, then presentation matters." It would seem we need to do our best to combine both the visual and the cognitive with PowerPoint and Web 2.0.

Monday, April 7, 2008

learning more about diigo

I have spent the last few days, off and on, learning more about the diigo tagging system. I have also been both comparing it and and trying to combine it with the and StumbleUpon tagging systems.

The best thing about diigo, so far, is that you can highlight passages of interest and attach stickynotes for comments directly to articles or websites that have caught your interest. You can also take those comments and send them to your blog as a draft post. The draft post will include an annotated link that will take the reader directly to the particular webpage with sections highlighted and comments attached. Other diigo members can do the same, creating a conversation on the webpage itself. Trouble though is that the annotations don't always seem to show up in the same way, though that may be me or my computer rather than diigo.

Similar to StumbleUpon, there also seems to be a greater opportunity to link up with others than there does with So far two other (diigoites ?) have asked me to link with them. One is an organization, Eco20/20, a worthwhile organization, which is asking everybody with the right tags to link up. They also asked me to join their group, which I have. Right now it seems that they have more friends (56) then members (15).

Another group that I ran across in my webtrekking through diigo country was edtechtalk an organization with a diigo group. They have 214 members. As their website says, EdTechTalk is a community of educators interested in discussing and learning about the uses of educational technology. This is another example of a professional organization using diigo for collaboration. What I found interesting was their discussion on whether to use both diigo and or to dump

As far as which one is better, for inter-active connections among a particular group diigo would seem to be far ahead. I also like their webslide feature, though it seems that I need to re-install it on some of my posts.

For testing which was better in the dissemination of websites, I searched for the word "entropy". I got 133 hits from diigo. It gave me 3 of my sites even though I had not tagged them "entropy". What was particularly interesting was that diigo gave me "linguistics" as a related group with 4 members. StumbleUpon only gives you 10 featured sites but gives you 30 other fellow stumblers who are also interested in "entropy" sites. You can then decide to stumble other sites, which can be cool since I am OK with utilizing random inquisitiveness or being open to serendipity. Mag.nolia gave me about 100. The winner hands down was with 2,680 sites. There are repeats though with all the systems because different people tag sites differently.

So I like diigo's interactivity better than either or StumbleUpon. I will still use because most people who find websites featured on this weblog find them on Which works out because I can automatically save to diigo, and mag.nolia. I do like the formating and serendipitous approach of StumbleUpon better than diigo or, but that is also ok because I can save from to StumbleUpon using a greasedmonkey script.

My latest experiment using diigo was to use the diigo blog feature about a Penelope Trunk post, highlighting certain sections and publishing it to this blog. The diigo annotated links took me to the posted with my comments highlighted. Finally, I saved this under StumbleUpon using their toolbar.

Now the question is whether it is worth it. It it is not that much more trouble, a few more clicks. Each tagging system has its own strengths. The answer depends upon why you are saving the website in the first place. For a weblog seeking new pathways through learning while endeavoring to share any worthwhile finds, the combination could be the best approach.