Sunday, April 25, 2010 Set Your Presentation Free

You can pretty much tell when something is under the radar when Wikipedia does not have an article on it. Nothing about social media site,, was there when I searched the open source, public, cyber-encyclopedia. allows users to post their slide presentations on their platform, freeing them for all the world to see. The stand-out beneficial aspect of a site like this is that the goal of the democratization of knowledge and information is well served in the using of it.

Here is the stated raison d'etre of

" is a safe secure online platform where Members can share and publish PowerPoint Presentations and Photo Galleries. Members can create a community where they can invite friends, family and colleagues to view and comment on their Presentations and Galleries. It's a perfect way to learn from others or just share your ideas."

The site is quite easy to use, no technical wizards needs (we still love you guys, though!).

I love the idea that an artist could potentially have a global gallery show via Artist, musician, front man for art-rock group, The Talking Heads, David Byrne, is famously producing PowerPoint art. He spoke of his process in a piece in Wired Magazine back in '03:

"Having never used the program before, I found it limiting, inflexible, and biased, like most software. On top of that, PowerPoint makes hilariously bad-looking visuals. But that's a small price to pay for ease and utility. We live in a world where convenience beats quality every time. It was, for my purposes, perfect.

"I began to see PowerPoint as a metaprogram, one that organizes and presents stuff created in other applications. Initially, I made presentations about presentations; they were almost completely without content. The content, I learned, was in the medium itself. I discovered that I could attach my photographs, short videos, scanned images, and music. What's more, the application can be made to run by itself -no one even needs to be at the podium. How fantastic!

"Although I began by making fun of the medium, I soon realized I could actually create things that were beautiful. I could bend the program to my own whim and use it as an artistic agent. The pieces became like short films: Some were sweet, some were scary, and some were mysterioso. I discovered that even without text, I could make works that were "about" something, something beyond themselves, and that they could even have emotional resonance. What had I stumbled upon? Surely some techie or computer artist was already using this dumb program as an artistic medium. I couldn't really have this territory all to myself -or could I?"

Saturday, April 17, 2010

The Social Media Transformation

From just fun and games to business necessity, the world of social media has undergone a transformation. Actually, it's more of a maturation. A piece in Chicago's The Business Ledger , written by associate editor Sherri Dauskurdas, delves into this phenomenon.


Social media a commerce-driven necessity

Navigating the maze of social media platforms can be a challenging, if not daunting task, but as the Facebook revolution takes hold in our country, more and more businesses are finding participation online is not simply a benefit, but rather a necessity to survival.

Experts and business professionals met March 25 at NIU-Naperville, to discuss social media and its implications for use in commerce as part of the 2010 Business Ledger Newsmakers’ forum series.

“Social media is not about technology and tools, it’s really about people,” said Barbara Rozgonyi, principal at CoryWest Media, LLC. “You can use Twitter to listen, you can search, respond to people for customer service. If people have a problem you can get to it right away. You can ask questions and connect with people, and you can also spy on your competition.”

If that still sounds overwhelming, don’t despair. Brian Tomkins, chief information officer for Boom Media, Inc., is seeing older adults taking the reigns on social media sites these days.

“The average age on Facebook is now 38 and the average age on Twitter is now 37, and it’s moving up,” said Tomkins. “You are seeing the demographic get older. It’s not for kids.”

That is allowing for a sea change in social media, from the social and entertainment focus under which it began to a developed exchange of information and a more valuable asset to marketing than ever before.

“It really comes down to using all the tools available to not replace traditional techniques but to supplement those,” Tomkins said. “We’re not replacing anything; we’re just enhancing them.”

It’s a simple transformation to understand. Traditional medium – television, radio and newspapers – are one-way tools, while social media is interactive. It allows participants to engage, said Brett Flickinger, creative revenue expert for Next Level.

“The power of social media is that so many people are allowed to participate in it,” said Flickinger. “With social media, we’re changing the rules as to how we as businesses communicate with existing customers, stakeholders and potential customers.”

In fact, Flickinger added, about 1.7 billion people were on the Internet last year, and 72 percent of America was online. That’s a lot of potential customers, and major companies are responding to that captive audience.

“Fortune 100 companies are now taking on kids right out of school at $30,000 a year to sit at a cubicle all day and tweet,” said J.D. Gershbein, president of Owlish Communications. “So we have arrived, and if companies aren’t in social media by now, they’re not only missing the boat, but they didn’t even know the boat was there in the first place.”

Tomkins added that 79 percent of Fortune 100 companies are on Twitter, and there are 50 million Tweets per day.

“So a lot of companies are spending money on this,” Flickinger said. “Some of these are probably your competitors. Think about that.

“Studies have shown, time after time, people don’t trust advertising. They don’t trust the message,” he said. “But they do trust the words of their peers. That’s the strength of social media. Peer recommendations are a driving force to get business.”

Yet even the major brands can only facilitate a portion of the discussion.

“Over 75 percent of what’s on the Internet was not produced by them,” said Tomkins. “It was produced by people talking about them. So if you’re not online, 100 percent of the content about you and your company is produced by somebody else. Do you really want to put that power in their hands?”

Instead, the experts suggest, companies should use social media to create positive brand association, enhance brand awareness, influence search results, support business development activities and enhance intent to sell. All these things can retain customers and shorten the sales cycle, as well as increase a company’s value.

“Your social media presence, those online tools you use, those are online assets. No matter what you do, no matter where you go, that’s real estate that stays with you,” Tomkins said.

Businesses must move quickly and understand social media and how it works, which is much different than other media. Online, it’s all about credibility, Tomkins said. You have to be credible online, back up what you say and be engaging.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

YouTube Redesign In Line With Google's Focus On Users

I am an avid YouTube viewer, as are millions of others worldwide. A short while back I was taken aback by YouTube's new look, which I initially thought was a glitch. Silly Me. On Youtube's redesign, as Laurie Sullivan writes, in a piece for Online Media Daily, "The cleaner, stripped-down version, which comes after a year of planning, more closely resembles the style and design of pages from parent company Google."

Here's more from the article:

"The changes might seem subtle at first, but that's only because the site sports a cleaner look. Metrics from preliminary tests that YouTube ran earlier this year suggest that overall video playbacks with the redesign rose 6%. People stay on the site 7% longer to view and comment longer. The cleaner design also helps pages load faster.

The combined features should give YouTube fodder to attract advertisers who long to engage site visitors more than the average of 15 minutes per session.

That's the length of time people typically hung around and viewed videos, perhaps because the old page design became crowded. Features began competing against each other for the attention of the site visitor, explains Shiva Rajaraman, YouTube senior product manager.

Rajaraman believes the redesign will change that, turning novices into power users though a variety of powerful, yet simple features and functions. For example, the search box has been positioned at the top center of the page. Site visitors can conduct searches as they watch videos."

This is a perfect example of experience-based design. Google is a forwarding thinking company from the design aspect and they are completely engaged in enhancing the user experience as it applies experienced-based design principles to the functionality of all its various business models.

Now as for YouTubers (those who provide content), one of the absolute best is Charlieissocoollike. I give you Charlie:

Monday, April 12, 2010

The Ongoing Conversation

There is a great deal of talking "at" in our culture today rather that talking "with". Here at Round Table Talking, we will endeavor to have a conversation with our readers about modern culture and the interplay between the worlds of art, design, and technology how they manifest themselves in our lives.

We hope to have a lively and informative exchange and encourage participation in the proceeding comment forums.

Let the conversation commence.