At last week’s Ark Conference on Law Firm Library Best Practices, I had a little fun with the audience by using Poll Everywhere to create live audience polling questions. My friend, Marlene Gebauer and I conducted five polls during our presentation, and the audience could answer by going to a webpage and clicking the answer, texting an answer to an SMS number, or by Tweeting. (Although, through an error on my end, I forgot to turn on the Tweeting option so that ended up no working.) Because the audience was pretty small, and as most of you know, I am extremely cheap/frugal, I used Poll Everywhere’s free version that allows up to 40 responses per poll.

I thought that it was a big it with the audience, and because Poll Everywhere allows you to embed the Poll into your PowerPoint presentation through an add-in, we could watch the answers come in live. When I present at AALL this summer, I am going to upgrade the subscription (and actually shell out some money) to use this for the larger audience. I highly suggest that if you are presenting to an audience and would like instant feedback, that you take a look at Poll Everywhere and test it out for yourself.

Here are the five questions I asked, and the resulting poll.

[Image (cc) quinnanya]
I don’t know who coined the term “Social Media” but I’d love to wring their neck. I think the name single handedly prevents widespread enterprise adoption of powerful tools. In common parlance Social = Party and Media = Entertainment. You might as well be asking your Executive Officer for 200 grand to pay the clown making balloon animals by the buffet. On the other hand, if we call it what it is, “Modern Communications Infrastructure”, suddenly 200K sounds like a bargain!
I know! I know! It is what it is and we’re stuck with the name. I’ll get over it, but here’s the problem. We’re running out of time. More specifically, companies are running out of time. In my first few posts on 3 Geeks, I wrote about the End of Corporate IT or as I called it the CorpTechPocalypse. Two of the reasons I gave were Software as a Service and the Consumerization of IT. These two factors have come together in the phenomenon of Enterprise SaaS companies marketing directly to end users. Their marketing plan goes something like this: 1) Give 80% of your product away for free. 2) Get employees inside the firewall to start using it. 3) Wait for the IT guy to call to find out how to administer/control your product. 4) Charge him a nominal fee for the admin console.
Now, I’m not bemoaning the practice. In fact, I think it’s rather ingenious. Enterprise adoption of software is a huge endeavor requiring a committee of people to develop an RFP, evaluate responses, pick a solution, work with operations and development to incorporate the product, train the users, etc. etc. It can take years to get a new software product up and running. The SaaS Trojan technique completely bypasses the typical corporate BS and goes straight to the people who will ultimately benefit from the product. And It’s WAY more efficient than the traditional process. Within the next few years your company will probably adopt at least one SaaS product this way simply because this is the future of enterprise software. Aaron Levie, CEO of Box.net, a file sharing solution, stated this approach explicitly in an interview with Fast Company last week.
FC: So someone in any department within an organization just decides they need help sharing files, they sign up on Box.net, then that spreads virally for the organization–and then once it gets big enough, you monetize that with premium features?
AL: Exactly. Once there’s a significant population of users in an organization, we’ll usually get a call from the IT buyer. He’ll say: We have all these services. Now, I want a secure way the people can use these tools, I want oversight across the network, I want people to authenticate in ways consistent with other authentication processes we use.
And Box.net is not alone, Yammer and Present.ly do essentially the same thing with enterprise twitter type clients. 37Signals doesn’t have the exactly the same model, but they make enterprise quality software cheap enough that a department head can decide to bypass the IT department and deploy new software to all of her people for the cost of a couple of martinis per month.
I know what you’re thinking. “Man the barricades! Batten the Hatches! Block those sites, we won’t let our users get to them!” Unless you’re going to take the nanagement approach of my alter ego and whitelist your internet access, it simply can’t be done. It’s a losing battle. As soon as you block one, ten more will rise up to take it’s place. This is happening now and you can’t stop it. But there is one way to counteract the SaaS Trojan, at least in regard to social SaaS – get ahead of it. Adopt the tools now. If you provide approved alternatives to your employees, then they will likely use those instead of finding their own solutions behind your back.
I’m not suggesting everyone needs to run out today and spend a fortune on Social Media tools. What you need to do is evaluate and approve a 21st Century Communications Infrastructure, which includes employee profiles, blogs, wikis, micro-blogging, collaboration tools, and whatever else that comes along in the near future. Email and telephone does not constitute a Modern Communications Infrastructure anymore.
Here’s the kicker – and lot’s of people will disagree with me here – you don’t need to decide exactly how you’re going to use the social tools before you adopt them. You need to make them available to your employees, and let your employees decide how and when to use them. Because, once your employees make the decision to use social tools, they want to start using those tools immediately, not in 6 months or a year. The traditional enterprise project based approach to software acquisition takes too long. SaaS Trojans will provide the tools immediately and you will have lost the ability to choose what software is appropriate for your company. The beauty of a SaaS solution is that for a very low cost you can make all of those tools available now, if the usage increases, then and only then will your costs increase. So stop worrying about how to explain “Social Media” to your 63 year old Managing Partner, it’s just a “Modern Communications Infrastructure”. He’s not likely to ever start blogging or wikiing anyway. The kid you hired last week, however, will one day be your MP. He tweets 150 times a day, and he blames the IT department for making it so difficult to communicate at work. He’ll be the first one to sign up for a SaaS Trojan. In fact, he probably already has.

We had a lot of traffic, comments and feedback when Toby wrote his “Don’t Use PowerPoint” post last week. We thought we’d play off of that post to ask the readers to comment on some of their PowerPoint stories (we said they could be good or bad… but, we preferred bad) and share them with us for this week’s Elephant Post. I’ve used PowerPoint for many, many years, and it is a rare occasion that everything that worked on my PC at home or in the office ended up working perfectly at the presentation.

We actually only ended up with one “horror story.” Which makes me think that some of you were just too embarrassed to tell us about some of your experiences. Hopefully, for those of you brave enough, you’ll add your story in the comments.

Don’t forget to look at next week’s question and contribute on the Elephant Post.

Toby Brown
AFA/KM

Since I’ve already bagged on PowerPoint, I’ll give a good example here.

Craig Ball is primarily known for his e-discovery knowledge and is at the top of that game.  Fans may not realize he is also the Master of PowerPoint.  I watched him give a PowerPoint presentation and essentially he re-created an auto accident for presentation to a judge and/or jury.  It gave a top down view of a car making a turn, and the resulting accident.  He also showed different trajectories of the car and accident based on witness testimony.  It was a compelling presentation to say the least.  On top of that, he showed us how he created it in PowerPoint.

Another classic example from Craig is his Jeopardy Game PowerPoint.  He runs a complete game of Jeopardy, including sounds and buzzer, all from PowerPoint.

If you ever get the chance to see the Master work his PowerPoint magic, I suggest you take advantage of it.

Sarah Glassmeyer
Law Librarian

This is so embarrassing, because I can’t remember who gave the talk or what it was about.  But that’s not a reflection on the speaker…more due to the fact that my brain is filled with too many useless facts to remember these sorts of things.

But!  It was at the 2008 ORALL annual meeting in Dayton, OH.  The speaker’s talk was something that didn’t lend itself to bullet points or pictures, so instead his ppt was almost like a greek chorus.  (And sometimes Mystery Science Theater 3000-esque.)  It was stark white slides with black typewriter font that supplemented his talk.  Fun to watch and must have taken a heck of a lot of practice to coordinate.

Ayelette Robinson
KM

Well I don’t have a juicy .ppt story to share, but I would like to throw one thought out there:  despite the issues that many PowerPoint presentations have, incorporating some visual representation of your key points is pretty important. I for one am a very visual person, and I’m quite sure that others in every event’s audience are too. Listening to voices for an hour or an hour & a half without any visual anchor to reel my mind back in when it wanders (which yes it does, even during the most exciting presentations) can be frustrating.

If you do choose to use PowerPoint, certainly abide by good etiquette (large font, just a few words per slide, etc.). And by all means, don’t limit yourself to PowerPoint; be creative like Toby and use a flipboard, or give Prezi a try. But however you go about it, provide a multi-sensory experience — it will convey your points better, and make them more memorable, than relying on the audience’s hearing alone.

Greg Lambert
Law Librarian/Competitive Intelligence

A few years ago, I did a really fun PowerPoint presentation at AALL. At the end of the regular presentation, I set up a PowerPoint slideshow that worked like an animated video. It was all taken from a picture from a Dr. Seuss book, and it was a magical machine where you put something in one end, and it came out the other as a wonderful concoction. Because I was talking about Competitive Intelligence (CI), I named it my Dr. ‘CI’euss slides. So as the slides automatically moved the images across the screen, I timed it out to fit the little Dr. Seuss-like rhyme that I wrote. It was a blast, and all eyes were on the screen and not me, but that was the purpose of this special presentation trick.

Next Week’s Elephant Post:

The Last 10 Years Have Really Changed _________!!

In the past decade, we have probably had a Century’s worth of change going on. Whether it is boarding a plane, reading a book, or reading an email, things just don’t look like they did in 2001 in many cases.

So, the upcoming Elephant Post asks you to fill in the blank and tell us something that you think has changed significantly – for better or for worse.

If you ever saw that impressive video of how Google Wave worked when it was released, you might remember that it “looked” amazing. Everything about Wave after that release, however, left a little to be desired… so much so, that it was finally abandoned (actually split into pieces) and labeled a (marketing) failure.

Now, I could be wrong here, but I think I just watched something that looks very “Wave-like” in the presentation. At TechCrunch yesterday, there was a video of what a few animators did with Google Docs’ Presentation app. I’m a big-time user of Google Docs, and love using the presentation app for collaborative work and actual presentations. So when I saw this video of what could be done to animate the presentation, I was seriously impressed. Unfortunately, when I found the actual presentation, and tried to run it the way it (at least looked like it) was done in the video… I was reminded of the false-hopes that the hype surrounding Google Wave gave us. The short 1 1/2 minute video presentation took over 20 minutes to actually run (and that was after I waited for all of the slides to download… and I tested it multiple times, only to get the same slow results.)

I have a joke I like to tell about the difference between “theory” and “reality” that kind of matches this situation… when you see me at a conference, buy me a beer, and I’ll tell you the joke.

To be fair, I did see in the comments that in order to get the presentation to run the way that it shows in the video, you can click on the “next” button in Google Docs at a rate of 7 times per second and replicate what was done in the video. I got through about 10 seconds of that before my hand gave out.

Take a look for yourself and see what 1:30 of what was presented, versus 1:30 of what I could replicate. You’ll see that it doesn’t exactly match the hype.

Here is what I was able to view in that same amount of time. 

Doesn’t quite match up to the hype.

Yesterday, we pointed out a few freebie online presentation tools. Last week we talked about the “new way to conference” where you can find a lot of webinars or live video feed presentations. So, that got me thinking this morning about how many actual webinars are going on throughout the day, and how on earth would I be able to get that information. I could try to “Google” this information, or maybe sign up for some type of monitoring service that would let me know when events such as webinars were coming up. But, I’ve tried these types of things in the past, and found that they just don’t work for me.

Then the lightbulb came on. If I really want to find some “real-time” information, especially on online presentations, then I really need to search Twitter to see what people are talking about right now. With Twitter Search, or my trusty TweetDeck Search Column — plus, years of Boolean Search Knowledge under my belt, I set forth and came up with the following search string:
Basically it says this: Find me any tweets that say either Webinar or Webcast plus the the word Today or Tomorrow in the same tweet, then also have a Link to the presentation. Plug that into my TweetDeck for continuous updating throughout the day, and viola! You have immediate results that point you to webinars that are going on either today or tomorrow.

Seo for Small Business

Google Algorithms

Blogging 101

Panel on Health Reform
Some are going to be irrelevant to what you are interested in, but there are a few that pop out at me that I might have never have thought to attend (or never have know existed) before I ran this simple search. Just another way to leveraging the power of Web 2.0 resources to help you find new and interesting things.
I just couldn’t live up to my reputation as the “cheap geek” if I didn’t share this with you. There are a couple of new presentation (“free” presentation) tools out there that I thought all of you might be interested in.
1. Adobe ConnectNow (http://www.acrobat.com)

Basically a free version of webEx.
Extremely slick presentation. Share program, desktop, etc.
You can use microphone to present, plus a built in chat feature.
It also has a phone number you can use, but it is not a toll-free number. So, you’d need a MagicJack to get around the toll charges! 😉
2. Present.IO (http://present.io)

This is a resource from Drop.IO
Not as slick as Adobe, but still free!!
I think you can upload files, but cannot share your desktop (correct me if I’m wrong on this one).
Same as Adobe, it has a phone number you can call in to conference, but not toll-free
Plus, another freebie:
3. Authorstream now has a “Present Live” feature on presenting PowerPoint Presentations.
Simple and effective way of presenting PPTs.
Allows you to move through the presentation and lets everyone keep on the same page
You can embed the presentation into a webpage (say along side your UStream video presentation)
Problem that I found is that anyone can move the PPT to the next or previous slide. So, some ‘crafty’ geek (cough – Toby – cough) would be having fun moving things to the next slide when you’re not ready.
Okay… that’s my “free” resources that you can use for the day!! Big tip-o-the-hat to Dennis Kennedy and Tom Mighell for their mentioning of ConnectNow and Present.IO in there podcast on The Future of Search.