Lawrence Lessig is a favorite writer of mine, his blog is exemplary and his book “The Future of Ideas: The Fate of the Commons in a Connected World” should be required reading for every teacher with students in 3rd grade and above.

The Presentation Zen blog post, “The Lessig Method” of presentation reveals that Lessig is a leader in another field besides intellectual property and copyright issues. Lessig is a powerful communicator using 21st Century presentation tools. Consider this quotation from James Grimmelmann:

Larry is one of the most extraordinary PowerPoint virtuousos I’ve seen. It’s not just the white-on-black typewriter font. He uses phrases as anchors into his talk: the slides are signposts that let you glance up and pull out key words and ideas from his talk. He’s also brilliant at taking slides he’s previously shown and modifying them to put new twists on those ideas. At the DRM conference, he changed background colors to show the expansion of copyright; today, he’s played with the color and placement of text. When he flips through the slides showing copyright terms in various years, it’s almost an animation. And when he’s talking about old films decaying and disappearing, he uses a blank black slide.

Better than reading about the Lessig Method– you can experience it– check out this 2002 presentation by Lessig on “Free Culture.” This is an 8 MB flash file that will take awhile to load, depending on your Internet connection speed. Experience is really the best teacher, so take a look at this to see what I am referencing and talking about here.

Dr. Lessig has a wealth of other audio and video presentations available on his website. My own audio/video content page on my main website is a modest attempt at using a similar model of sharing ideas via multimedia.

But I have never used the “Lessig Method” of presentation. Wow. If you think you have “seen it all” when it comes to multimedia presentations, check out Lessig’s free culture example. Very powerful and effective.

Dick Hardt’s 2005 keynote on “Identity 2.0” is another example of this presentation style referenced in the initial link above, which I have not viewed yet.

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2 Responses to Lessig Method presentation

  1. Wes — Want to compliment you on taking time to explore the ‘presentation’ world. Yes, a technology issue — “death by PowerPoint” and all that Cliff Attkinson speaks coherently and passionately about — but more importantly a “storytelling” issue. What Dick does so well (and I was similarly “wow’d” a few months back when I first saw his “Identity 2.0” presentation — how he captivates while never moving is one of the great success stories of public speaking in my opinion but that’s a side note)…is that he taps into that part of our psyche that still believes there is a wizard, and not just some guy behind a curtain. By that I mean that there is a ‘seamless’ connection between his voice and the content/graphics on the screen. It taps into something deeper in our brainstem, in my opinion, and allows us to let go, sit back, and enjoy the ride. Not much different than the old campfire ritual where a speaker’s eyes and the flames took you some place far, far away. Well, Dick and Dr. Lessing both do something similar by returning the campfire to the public presentation, not being trendy with overdoing the PowerPoint slides, but letting key words ‘punctuate’ rather than to be ‘read’. Screens are NOT for reading. They are for sparking the imagination. Dr. Lessing’s presentation on “free culture” is powerful based on its content — Disney, et al — but it is even more powerful because it seamlessly connects the audience to the speaker and acts as a go-between, so that the participants and ideas are the focus, not the gadgets. This is where technology is most powerful. If it allows the story to be the focus, it’s doing its job! You are to be commended for taking time to share Dr. Lessing’s work, as well as Dick Hardt. Great sources. Great post. Add Cliff Attkinson to your list. Look forward to following your blog breadcrumbs. Cheers, Christian

  2. Wesley Fryer says:

    Thanks so much for reference to Cliff Attkinson, Christian. I think all these authors are really on to something here that anyone who wants to be a 21st century communicator should be paying attention to. Last night in fact, our family did gather around a fire in our mountain condo here in Pagosa Springs, and tell stories. We don’t need PowerPoint to communicate, and many people seem to have forgotten that. These presenters and authors dramatically remind us of that fact, but also highlight how visual tools can dramatically heighten the impact of a message.

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