RE: [xmca] Subtleties of Presentation Media

From: Michael Glassman (
Date: Fri Feb 16 2007 - 15:17:08 PST

What an interesting story. I have been doing some reading and thinking on connectivity lately and have come to the conclusion that three little letters - www - are going to change our universe in ways that we can't imagine. One of the ways I believe it is going to change things is by changing the concept of boundaries, and the notion that ideas can somehow can be treated as property. That's right - I think there is a real possibility that intellectual property will become a thing of the past. Is this a good thing or a bad thing. It's hard to say, but I think it is coming. Industries that live on intellectual property rights - like recording, publishing, entertainment - are fighting like mad, but I'm not sure they will be able to do anything to stop the wave.
So getting back to your particular scenario. What would have been the difference if the TA found your Power Point presentation on the internet, and downloaded it, or better yet hyperlinked it (so many of my students bring their portables to class - and at Cornell my nephew had to buy one as a freshman). And then some of those students thought there was something interesting and hyperlinked it to some people they know. Unless you had a trackback function, you wouldn't even know where it was going or who was using it. People would change it, people would add to it, people would desecrate it. But every person using the idea would be equal because what was important were the ideas that you created and they took on a life of their own. Perhaps the slides would come back to you in a form you didn't even recognize. But it wouldn't matter because you connected with all of these people - your ideas became viral rather than remaining hierarchical. The only thing that creates boundaries on the ideas is rationality. Of cours there may be a really dark side to this whole phenomenon, there always is. But like I said, I'm thinkng we need to redefine our ideas of boundaries and ownership.


From: on behalf of David H Kirshner
Sent: Fri 2/16/2007 11:07 AM
Subject: [xmca] Subtleties of Presentation Media

A few days ago I gave a PowerPoint presentation of my research to our
department. After the presentation, a graduate teaching assistant in the
department whom I've known for a number of years asked me if he could have
a copy of the presentation so that he could follow-up with one of his
classes (some of his students also were at the presentation). I immediately
agreed, but after some debate with myself, I decided to give him hard copy
of the slides instead. The medium of PowerPoint would erode the boundaries
between him and me.

Here's a snippet from my note to him. I wonder if this phenomenon has been
observed/discussed before in the media literature.
Comments welcome.

David Kirshner

Hi xxxx,

I've copied out all of my slides (about 50), and left them in your mailbox.
I'd intended to send you the PowerPoint presentation itself, but in the end
felt uncomfortable about doing that.
It's an interesting media phenomenon. If I give you photocopies of the
slides and you distribute them for discussion to your students, it's very
clear what are the boundaries between my contribution, and yours. The
slides are mine, the discussion is yours. However, the PowerPoint medium is
inherently incomplete. If you present my slides as a PowerPoint
presentation, it no longer is possible to clearly demarcate our boundaries.
That's because the in the PowerPoint setting, the slides are inseparable
from the commentary. Thus it's not possible to distinguish what part of the
commentary is you and what part is me.

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