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December 14, 2010

Always Already New/Presentation slides and a few other little things

Too true!

I do not think that I have used the native interface of powerpoint even once. What I do instead is make 1024 x 768 JPEG images in photoshop and drag and drop them onto a blank slide page. Powerpoint is clumsy, a nightmare to align things with, doesn’t have nearly enough nice effects and transitions (just check out proshow and you will see what I mean). Not to even mention the fact that I am really not the organized sort of person who puts bullet points on her presentations – but!… All that said, it is the only universal slideshow presenter that you can count on to work anywhere and everywhere, so that is the one you end up cobbling things together in.

For the ones below I started out with the yed graph editor, which is a free Java based application that anyone can download from here. This is one of the nicest softwares that I have ever used, although it does take a while to customize things. I saved the generated diagrams as transparent gif files and then placed them together with the other material in photoshop. (Tip: If you decide to use this, save the gif files scaled up at least 2 times, even 3 times if it lets you do so. The stuff is aliased, so there are pretty hard edges which scaling down in photoshop seems to fix very nicely).

These are for a talk which I will be giving in Milano the day after tomorrow at a conference entitled Always Already New which is being organized by my colleague Francesco Monico. I ended up working hard for this since I have also extended the conference paper to a full journal article. Which, unfortunately I did not have the time to complete and I was actually supposed to hand deliver it to the editor, Milanese Gianluca Mura, over the next few days. Let us hope he gives me an extension. All I need is a few more days, but those I really do need before I am done. More or less done, anyway…

The reason that I had to work so hard is that I finally decided to really get my head around cybernetics. So, it meant a lot of reading, plowing through texts which I only half-understood initially and had to read and re-read. Still am in fact. And will probably be doing so for quite some time. One good resource is the Principia Cybernetica website, from where you can also get a lot of pdfs. Some clear, some way beyond my grasp, I’m afraid. And then another life saver is Ranulph Glanville, who makes matters as clear as they can get. But, still, it is a difficult field if you want to really understand it beyond a superficial acquaintanceship. And I do.

The full powerpoint is here. And if you wish to read the conference paper, that is here. ;-)

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