[SIGCIS-Members] for upcoming SIGCIS meeting: tips on presenting

Paul N. Edwards pne at umich.edu
Tue Oct 7 12:21:38 PDT 2014

All, as we prepare for the upcoming SIGCIS/SHOT meeting, I thought the following might be of use to this group.

The unfortunate fact is that many historians are terrible presenters, due to an inherited tradition of read-aloud style talks. In the age of TED talks, SXSW, and Pecha Kucha, that style should be long dead, yet it lingers on like a zombie, feasting on the brains of graduate students (often infected by their professors).  

To try to change that culture, around 15 years ago I wrote a pamphlet on “How to Give an Academic Talk.” 

Having just endured yet another presenter who stared at the podium while reading aloud a paper he had written for publication — occasionally casting a wild-eyed glance at the upper left corner of the room, by way of pretending to actual communication with the audience —I updated that little pamphlet again, now on v5.2.

Let’s build a better presentation culture. Most other fields have already done it. So can we, and historians of computing should be in the forefront. 




Paul N. Edwards
Professor of Information and History, University of Michigan 
A Vast Machine: Computer Models, Climate Data, and the Politics of Global Warming (MIT Press, 2010)

Terse replies are deliberate (and better than nothing)

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