Electronic Lecturing

On Thursday I was a presented on the future of eReaders (like the Kindle) at O’Rielly’s online Tools of Change conference. It was a bit of an odd experience. While the talk was to an audience of over 230 people, I never saw a single one of them (or heard them for that matter). I gave the talk from a study room in Cornell’s Mann library, using Webex software to show my slides and talking to the audience via a cell phone connection (and a bluetooth headset). The only reference to attendance was a participant counter in the Webex interface.

It’s more than a little jarring to have no immediate feedback (semiotic backchannels) like body language, facial expressions, or other forms of crowd engagement while speaking. I could have tried following the participant chat while I talked, but I worried that I’d get to distracted. On the plus side, I was able to play the “aging hipster”, presenting in jeans and representing RIT Taga with one of their awesome silkscreened shirts.

I did get a copy of the chat log (my favorite response was “Cultural Anthropology is the new Black.”) And there are a few summaries of my talk floating around. And for those in the audience who stumbled across this blog, over the next few days I’ll be posting short essays on what I discussed both here and at the OPL‘s site.