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A talk in search of a stage

Those of you who follow my scholarly career as closely and in as much painstaking detail as I myself do will notice that one particular vector that I've followed with some consistency is the exploration, experimentation (with), and implementation (PPT) of various visual/spatial tools for writing. In other words, I find myself drawn, time and again, to different ways of writing, different means of expressing the kind of thinking that I do as a scholar.

Funny thing about this is that I didn't realize this myself until fairly recently. I've been working first with hypertexts and webtexts and later with new media more broadly conceived for over 10 years now, and I think that one of the things that drives that work is an underlying conviction on my part that electracy allows me to write in ways that feel more comfortable to me than do those supported by pencils, typewriters, and word processors. It's early in the morning, so forgive me for waxing a little philosophical here.

Anyhow, over the past year or so, I've been using Keynote as a composing tool, mostly for talks that I've given, but as a means of visually and spatially writing before I commit my ideas to sentences and paragraphs. When people started screencasting, I was excited about the possibility of being able to do even more with it. But I've had trouble finding the right combination of tools for myself. Enter ProfCast, a $35 app that allows you to simultaneously record voice on top of Keynote or PPT slides, and it preserves the timing of the slides as well. Finally, it allows you to publish the results as podcasts/screencasts (with RSS feeds to boot). The idea behind it is that it's a tool that would allow professors giving PPT-assisted lectures to record both the voice and slides, and package them together for their students.

So what we have linked below is my first crack at a screencast written in Keynote, then scripted, and recorded with ProfCast. It's about 12 minutes long, and runs a little larger than 8 MB (8.1, I think). It's an MPEG-4 file, and I was able to view it on my machine using QuickTime without any trouble. The slides are vector-based for the most part, so you can watch it full-screen without any fuzziness--in fact, it's probably better displayed large than small, so I recommend downloading it to watch it.

It's a little rough around the edges, but not bad for a first try, and the ideas in it are ones that I've been batting around in different forms (and different forums) for the past year. Enjoy.

social bookmarking screencast


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» Collagecast from I am Dan
I have been fidgeting with podcast exploring collage activities for first year writers. This is more or less a dabble to see how to go about creating an enhanced podcast that includes images. First, thanks to Collin Brooke, who... [Read More]


Enjoyed the screencast. I like the idea of keynote as a composition tool. The discussion flows nicely and the ability to see the slides through the cast seems to be working for me. The isolation of bookmarking and citation lists with academic habits works great as a concept comes through as does the point about the flattening of information in traditional bibliographies.

I'm struck with a notion, though, that tagging might in some ways reproduce flatness along a horizontal plane rather than in a list. I see that a dozen contact zone tags might add depth vs two expressivist ones, but something is nagging at me while looking at the Tagging image that occurs about seven minutes into the cast. I'm not up to speed enough on tagclouds to put my finger on it and probably just need to do more tagging to get my mind around what still feels flat--maybe it's just the representation.

I did have some trouble with the viewing of the cast. In a browser, it just displayed binary code, and then when downloading the file had a txt suffix. Once I dropped the txt, it worked fine, although opened by default in itunes which played it as a thumbnail. Going to Quicktime did it.

I'm curious to learn and try more with screencasting. So far, I've found the time invested in scripting, recording, tweaking to be pretty extensive, but I'm getting to the point where the payoff is coming closer to the investment so that it is worth doing it for more common tasks.

And then, one other thought encapsulated by the name--profcast: why not writecast or plancast? A point related, I think, to the complaints that itunes U is resulting in loads of empty classrooms while students download and get the lectures and don't bother coming to class. No complaints here, just had that response to the name of the software.

I know I've told you this before, but you have an amazing voice.

Thanks for the comments, Dan. I think I got the download problem fixed (by setting MIME types on my site), thanks to the ProfCast folks.

And I agree with you that tagclouds still flatten--I don't think it's a perfect solution, by any means, but I do think the improvements they make over straight bibs are worth exploring...

Wow, did I stumble across this software at the right time. I really wanted to basically do this with my CCCCs presentation and also something I'm doing in Omaha the following week, and I was trying to figure out an easy software solution to do this. Looks like Collin found one for me....

Oh, and I liked your talk here, too... ;-)