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Saturday, August 13, 2011

Blankness at Conferences: Good for Graphics, Bad for Badges

I just finished attending Intellectual Property Scholars Conference 2011 – a wonderful event. But it reminded me that I have a couple of simple suggestions for all scholarly conferences that I'd like to pass along.

Blank_slide First, put a PowerPoint presentation consisting of a single blank black slide on every podium computer. That way, if someone doesn't have a slide show, the blank slide can be turned on for them. With the aid of a blank slide, nothing will be competing for the audience's visual attention while the presenter speaks. 

Mark Lemley of Stanford, for instance, seems to have a penchant for presenting slideless. That's fine, of course. But for Mark at this particular conference, that meant that during the first portion of his very interesting presentation, he was competing for attention with a rather sternly worded message reminding podium-computer users that ALL FILES ON THIS COMPUTER WILL BE DELETED. It only got worse when the screensaver came on. As if because of something Mark said, suddenly a hyperactive, menacing “DePaul University” in 3-D chrome lettering began furiously pivoting left and right, and pacing back and forth over Mark like it was getting ready to attack him. It was pretty hard to concentrate on what Mark was saying, if, like me, you were mentally trying to gauge whether the graphic was getting especially agitated when Mark mentioned overturned Federal Circuit precedent.

Conference_badge_on_lanyardSecond, flip-proof name badges on lanyards by making them double-sided. How many times has this been your internal monologue?

Who is this person I'm talking to? I recognize the face, but have I just seen it in some bulk-rate postcard law porn, or was this person actually in my Torts class in law school? Well, no problem,  I'll just casually look down at their name tag ... DANGIT!  It's spun around to its blank side! Hmmm. Maybe I should drop my pen and see if their name tag spins around when they try to pick it up for me. No, wait, that's even weirder than admiting I don't know their name. Or is it? OH FOR CRYING OUT LOUD, who am I fooling? If I wasn't so socially awkward, I would have gone to business school.

So, if you are organizing a conference, just print out the text for the name tag on two slips of paper, and then insert them both back-to-back into the plastic thing. (And congrats and thanks to the organizers of IPSC 2011!)

Posted by Eric E. Johnson on August 13, 2011 at 09:51 PM in Travel | Permalink


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Don't they even have printers these days that can print two-sided?

Posted by: Stuart Buck | Aug 14, 2011 9:11:50 AM

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