When people first started talking about how great it would be to be able to share videos of lectures, I was skeptical. I have trouble enough sitting through most lectures in person, why on earth would I want to sit and watch a lecture on my computer, when I wouldn’t even be able to interact with the speaker and ask questions later on? I know myself, I know that I would most likely have the talk running in the background and be surfing the web or playing some game involving penguins or something like that.
But this week, I’ve watched two talks that have had me absolutely riveted, and suddenly I understand. There are talks that are so good, that they really should be shared.
The first is a 7 minute talk and demo of Photosynth. It’s just long enough to really whet your appetite. Blaise Aguera y Arcas works at Microsoft Live Labs, and shows us crazy cool stuff that can be done with images. Starting with really seamless viewing of many, many images at all sorts of resolution. His throw-away demo of mapping all the roads in the US was awesome. Then it gets crazy cool. Photosynth is a way of pulling together images from flickr that have been tagged with the same place. They’re then spatially related, allowing you to navigate through the image.
The second is a longer talk by David Weinberger, one of the authors of the Cluetrain Manifesto, and most recently, the author of Everything is Miscellaneous. This is an hour long talk given at Google about his most recent book, where he talks about some of the exciting possibilities for organizing things digitally. My description doesn’t do it justice, but it’s a very engaging talk, and one of the few I’ve seen that uses powerpoint well. Really.