Paper Sans Paper (mk 1)

30thOct. × ’11

One thing about my presentation in Belgium that I’ve separated off, mainly due to it being only of interest to nerds, was that I did it entirely paperlessly. Unless, of course, you include the sizable copse that was felled in the process of writing the thesis that the paper was based on.

This was primarily driven by my desire (and Angela’s insistence) that I leave my elderly white MacBook at home and just take the iPad instead. The rest of it was due to me staying in a hostel that lacked a printer, as most do, and being not quite conversant enough in Dutch/Flemish to work a computer lab. Nonetheless I was quite pleased with the results and plan on honing the process in further presentations, and on purpose this time.

The slides were easy enough, since there was a glut of MacBooks at the conference with their attendant adaptors. I happened to borrow Peter Gillette‘s, a compatriot of mine from not only Iowa but also our undergraduate days at Lawrence University. As it turns out, I was not the only one to read my paper off an iPad, see previous answer concerning printers, but it seems that the consensus was to read a PDF in iBooks.

I, on the other hand, didn’t even plan enough to make one of my paper and so accessed the plain text on Nebulous Notes, which is what I had used to write the paper in the first place. I thought this worked pretty well, since I could crank the font up to be more readable. However, I did hit it the wrong way a couple times during my presentation which brought up the keyboard. Which was great.

Obviously the Holy Grail would be to do the whole thing on the iPad without having to borrow Peter’s computer. I’m a minimalist1 when it comes to my Keynote slides, all Gill Sans and no wacky transitions, so they translate reasonably well to the iPad. Since I have the first year’s model it would have to be wired, but that’s not so bad since I could mess around with the presenter notes then. If I did either bring my own computer or continue to be a bum, I either need to make a cataract-font PDF or find another solution since losing my place after bringing the keyboard up was really bringing me down.

If there’s anything that Steve Jobs and the Reality Distortion Field taught us is that nothing takes the place of preparations and practice, but I’d be interested to see how other academics are broaching the same idea.

  1. Har!
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