A Quick ProfHack: Kindling the Presentation



A few weeks ago, I had the privilege of speaking at the Digital Humanities Summer Institute at the University of Victoria. If you haven’t attended (and didn’t have your Twitter stream flooded with #DHSI2014 tweets), DHSI is a week-long Digital Humanities extravaganza, which you can read about in a previous ProfHacker post. I was participating in one of the new “Birds of a Feather” discussions, which asked two provocateurs to make short presentations and then would open up into a discussion with the audience. I loved the idea and was super-excited to participate. I had thought a lot about what I might say that would be provocative enough to spark conversation but not so provocative as to get a laptop between the eyes. There were three of these sessions, and I was slated to participate in the third one, on Thursday–the penultimate day of the conference. As the week progressed, I found myself changing my mind about what to say–so much so that my original plan went completely out the window. What I had prepared to say and what I wanted to say were no longer related.

This realization was followed by another recognition: I left my iPad at home. In an attempt at packing light, I had deliberately decided not to bring the iPad. I knew I needed my laptop for the course I was taking, and I brought my Kindle for the plane, but I only realized the full ramifications of my decision once I was in Victoria: what would I use for my talk? Usually, I’m old-school when it comes to conference presentations. I print them out and deliver them from the page rather than the screen (after lots of practice). But, this was DHSI, and I didn’t bring any paper. Or rather, the paper I brought was already full–I had printed out our course reader and thought I was being smart by double-siding! By then, I had waited too long to find myself a printer, and the stadium seating in the auditorium we were in meant I would need to look up at the audience, so having a laptop on my lap would be awkward at best. What to do?

At the eleventh hour, I realized that I could probably figure out a way to get my remarks onto my Kindle. We’ve written extensively about the Kindle elsewhere at ProfHacker: “Kindling in the Classroom,” “Just the Kindle,” “Kindle for Proofreading” and many more.

Thankfully, it was easy enough to do:

  • Convert your document into a PDF
  • Connect your Kindle to your computer via USB
  • Click on the Kindle icon under “Devices” in your file browser
  • Click on the “Documents” folder
  • Drag and drop the PDF into that folder.
  • Disconnect your Kindle from the computer (click the up arrow next to the Kindle icon in devices).

When you start your Kindle again, the PDF should appear. I read somewhere that the Kindle would let me increase font size for a PDF, but mine didn’t, so I had to upload a couple different versions in different font sizes to find one that would be comfortable to read from a distance.

When all was said and done, the Kindle worked out well, but I will be traveling with my iPad from now on. The larger display it affords is worth the extra weight in the carry-on. I love my Kindle, but even with the Paperwhite display and backlighting, e-ink is not the easiest to read when giving a talk, and the small screen means more frequent page turns–especially if you need to bump up the font size.

Have you had to come up with any Conference Hacks? Please share in the comments section.


[Creative Commons licensed image from Flickr user Peggy2012CREATIVELENZ]

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