I am often struck by the fact that so many people who claim to be using the latest, coolest, Web 2.0 (and 3.0, whatever that is) tools are not actually doing anything new. They are merely using a new tool in the same old ways they have always done. THAT is not progress.
For example, if you can print out the contents of your website on paper in a way that makes sense, you are NOT designing for the web. What I mean to say is that you are not taking advantage of what the medium can really do if your content is linear. The web does not need to be linear – that is one of its charms. Now, that’s not to say that all web content must be set up with lost of bells and whistles, like this one (it’s a flash site, so those of you with ipods, iphones, and ipads, once again, Too Bad you can’t see this), but I REALLY hate it when people claim to be doing something they’re not. There’s nothing really wrong with have linear information in a web site, but DON’T pretend it is more than it is. That’s, well, dishonest.
Take presentations, for example. People LOVE to hate powerpoint. Like Mark Congiusta says so well here:
It’s not powerpoint’s fault. People just don’t use it right. But because PPT is so maligned, people seem to think that simply using something else is in and of itself better. Well, I’ve got news for you, it’s NOT. Take one of the new kids on the block for example, Prezi
Prezi offers a way to build a presentation that is effectively a single slide. The slide can be really big and you can zoom in on whatever parts you want. It’s a nice idea. Cool even. When I first heard about it I tried to think of ways to use this to effect in some of the presentations I have done in the past. I can think of only a few that would benefit from this kind of visualization. I still haven’t made a Prezi presentation. If I have a presentation to do that lends itself to a non-linear, big-picture approach, I’ll give prezi a try. But I’m NOT going to use it just because it’s new and sexy.
Today, I came across a link (Bloom’s Digital Taxonomy and Web 2.0 Tools) that prompted this post. Now I don’t know the author of the presentation so please forgive me if this offends anyone, but this is an example of exactly what I’m talking about. What makes it all the more ironic is that the SUBJECT of the presentation is exactly what they’re NOT doing – i.e. using web 2.0 tools.
Let me explain. They are using prezi (web 2.0 tool?, check); they are NOT using powerpoint (we’re SO over old technology, check). BUT the presentation consists of,…. can you guess? 15 traditional slides arranged in chronological order. So that begs the question, WHAT’S THE POINT OF USING PREZI HERE? If you want a presentation where it’s easy to jump to the embedded links, use GoogleDocs. It’s also free; it’s also ‘in the cloud’ (so you can still claim you are using a Web 2.0 tool) and if you want to look at all the slides at once (a la zoomed out mode in Prezi), well, all you need to do is look at the slide sorter. There really isn’t anything here that can’t already be done using powerpoint. It’s a nice presentation, but it is not ‘new’ in terms of format in spite of the fact that it uses a new tool.
So I thought, well maybe this is just an isolated example. NOPE. I looked at a bunch of slides on the site – almost ALL of them were simply ‘regular’ sets of chronologically ordered slides pasted on one big prezi slide.