Currently browsing the archives for December 2009
The track book has been completed and is available on amazon.com. One dollar from each book purchased will be donated back to the school.
A good idea:
To what lengths will a Williams College student go to get out of taking a midterm?
According to a segment in the new college reality show spoof called “The Mountains,” produced by students in a film class, the answer is simple: Get swine flu.
That’s exactly what senior Lindsay Aubin pretended to do in a segment she produced for the show – a segment that was actually a spoof on the MTV reality show “Made,” a self-improvement reality series that allows individuals to be “made” into everything from singers to athletes to prom kings with the help of a “Made Coach.”
“I am here to steal the swine from you,” Aubin says in the segment as she enters the room of a friend who has been quarantined for being sick. She uses this tactic after trying other ways, like not washing her hands for seven days, touching every doorknob she encounters, and eating and drinking from other students’ trays. When none of that works, she decides her immune system is too strong and thus needs to be weakened with alcohol and caffeine. After a scene in which she passes out half naked outside from too much of that alcohol, the last shot of the segment shows her curled up in a comforter in bed, looking miserable.
“I did it,” she says weakly. “I got swine flu. I don’t have to take midterms. Yay.”
Great stuff. Participant Danny Huang is an EphBlog author. He ought to post the videos here. More excerpts below the break.
The year is almost over. Why no news about this?
Going somewhat the other way, rumor has it that Katie Couric, 52, may wed her 35-year-old smoochums Brooks Perlin this year. If she starts to nod off during the CBS Nightly News, it could be a clue. . . .
Related story from last January.
Katie Couric and her younger beau, Brooks Perlin, are still going strong. The two were seen dining on matzoh ball soup and salads at Junior’s Restaurant in Times Square last week.
Apologies for falling behind on our Couric-Perlin blogging. Couric was the Commencement Speaker in 2007 and I have a crazy theory that it was the Williams connection that brought the two together. And no one loves an Eph marriage more than EphBlog!
Katie Couric isn’t Jewish. Neither is her young lover Brooks Perlin. So why were they eating matzoh ball soup at Junior’s? That’s our soup, lady! Back off.
Nice photos from the assistant innkeeper at the 1896 House, who is spending her first winter in Williamstown (click on photos to enlarge):
The judges have been checking teeth, assaying gait, and lifting tails for the entire teaching season so that this closely Dave-predicted list can be in the winners circle.
Better than rumours, I have these photos from an anonymous source (not from Eukanuba) of the finalists for your examination and speculation.
It’s been a grueling and growling season for all the contenders. But as referee Ruby Goldstein used to say on the Friday Nite Fights, “May the better participant emoige triumphant”!
Anyone heard rumors about who got tenure this year and who did not?
Background: Corrections welcome, but my understanding is that the standard timing is that new professors at Williams have an initial three year contract followed, if they are re-appointmented, by a 4 year contract. In the 3rd year of that, they are eligible for tenure. If they don’t get it, they spend the last year still at Williams (making those department meetings somewhat awkward) while they look for another job.
Decisions are made during the fall of that 3rd year (so their 6th at Williams). Professors are told the results in December, so the news is out there. But the results are not official (or made public by the College) until the Trustees approve them during their January meeting. (I have never heard of a case where the Trustees did not approve a decision made by the Administration.) The College makes public those that it has approved in a nice press release. Depending on the year, the College may also let the Record know who was denied. (See here and here for debate over this issue in past years.)
First, we need to figure out the list of faculty who might, conceivably be up for tenure this year. A good starting point is here:
NEW FACULTY 2004-05
Andrea Barrett, English
Derek Dean, Biology
Erina Duganne, Mellon Post-Doctoral Fellow in
History of Photography
Ali Garbarini, History
Robert Gazzale, Economics
Sarah Goh, Chemistry
Ruth Groff, Political Science
Bernhard Klingenberg, Statistics
Andrew Lieberman, Theatre
Brian Martin, French
Brenna Munro, Mellon Post-Doctoral Fellow in
Anglophone African Literature
Chris Nugent, Chinese
Michael Rolleigh, Economics
Merida Rua, Latino/a Studies and American Studies
Greg Stanczak, Sociology
Christian Thorne, English
Tara Watson, Economics
Some of these folks were never on the tenure track to begin with. Some have left Williams, either of their own volition or because they were not re-appointed. But, cross-referencing the course catalog, I think that the following were up for tenure this fall.
 “Alexandra Garbarini, Assistant Professor of History ”
 “Robert Gazzale, Assistant Professor of Economics ”
 “Sarah Goh, Assistant Professor of Chemistry ”
 “Bernhard Klingenberg, Assistant Professor of Statistics ”
 “Brian Martin, Assistant Professor of French Literature and French Language ”
 “Christopher M. B. Nugent, Assistant Professor of Chinese ”
 “Michael Rolleigh, Assistant Professor of Economics ”
 “Christian Thorne, Assistant Professor of English ”
 “Tara Watson, Assistant Professor of Economics ”
[Ignore the numbers in brackets. R code available on request. You need this raw data (txt) to start with.]
Are we missing anyone? Perhaps. Some people either accelerate or slow down the tenure clock, so there may be professors who are up for tenure but who are not on this list. However, I bet everyone on this list was up for tenure.
Second, we need to figure out who got tenure and who did not. I am not qualified to judge the academic work of most of these folks, but I would be very surprised if Gazzale, Watson or Klingenberg were denied tenure. (Watson, in particular, seems certain.)
Garbarini is class of 1994 and we always root for alumni up for tenure. One book published by Yale is probably enough . . .
What have you heard?
UPDATE: This post has been edited slightly.
Of the various arguments against trying Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in civilian court, the worst is that our government’s use of waterboarding will be exposed. Indeed, the public’s exposure to “enhanced interrogation techniques” could be one of the beneficial results of his trial.
Depends on what you mean by “beneficial.” Hirsch seems to assume that the more that the US public knows about a) Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and b) waterboarding, the more likely they are to find “enhanced interrogation techniques” repugnant. Perhaps. Yet it is a common mistake to think that, because you understand Topic X thoroughly, the American people will, once they understand Topic X as well you as do, come to agree with you.
But, in this case, couldn’t the opposite be true? If the American people learn more about KSM and more about waterboarding, mightn’t they be just as likely to conclude that waterboarding people like KSM is praiseworthy? Imagine that KSM says that he wants to kill Americans and knows about possible plots. What percentage of US voters would be against waterboarding him? My civil libertarian friends should be careful what they wish for . . .
I assume that this is not a change that Hirsch would describe as “beneficial.”
I wonder how Ephblog missed this alum. Naval Rear Admiral Mark Tidd ’77 is currently Chaplain of the U.S. Marine Corps. I assign David Kane 100 push-ups for failing to previously post on Tidd. I don’t know much about military rankings and whatnot, but Tidd sounds to this layperson like another worthy Bicentennial Medal contender. His educational and professional accomplishments are certainly impressive, and he apparently has some fans from his previous work.
By The Numbers
I have officially survived my first semester as a JA. In light of that fact, I have compiled a handy summary of the past four months, a la the Williams Prospectus:
19: # of Frosh in my entry
17: # of Frosh I Facebook stalked before First Days (oops!)
1: # of Frosh adopted along the way
75%: Approximate percentage of Frosh that I feel sufficiently bonded to
100%: Approximate percentage of Frosh that I wish I felt sufficiently bonded to
8: # of beds that I assisted in lofting on move-in day
780: Approximate caloric intake from Dunkin Donut’s Munchkins on move-in day
2 hours: Approximate time my Co and I spent shopping for men’s cargo shorts on move-in day (don’t ask)
1: # of parents I wanted to defenestrate on move-in day
6: # of times I have personally supervised vomiting Frosh
3 hours: Approximate time my Co and I have spent bonding in bathrooms while supervising vomiting Frosh together
2: # of hand-drawn “I’m sorry for vomiting last night” cards currently on display in my dorm room
2: # of sleep-interrupting fire alarms in Mission this past semester
0: # of fire alarms caused by my entry (Woohoo!)
1: # of trees confiscated from my entry on the basis of fire safety violations
$833: Entry funds spent thus far
20: # of attendees at our End-of-the-Semester Entry Dinner at Jae’s Inn
4-1-0: Record of our Entry IM Soccer Team
9: # of cut-off sweatshirts worn on the playing field as our official uniform
1: # of championships we think we should have won
$250: Cash prize for IM Broomball Champion in January. Bring it on.
5: # of entries I have personally showered in this semester, per official Entry Shower Competition rules
92.4%: percentage of entries showered in by at least one of my Frosh, per Official Entry Shower Competition rules
1: # of times I have been questioned as to why I am in a towel in the middle of Frosh Quad
2.7%: Percent decrease in my GPA over the past semester
46/100: Score on my Organic Chemistry midterm exam
0: # of times I went to bed before 2am in the month of September
0: # of regrets I have about all of it
As one of his guests, the music producer Don Was, says, ”To me, he embodies the resistance to the feminization of men. Over 10,000 years of tradition, and there’s one guy left you can say, ‘I know this guy that hunts his food and eats it.’ He’s a real man. He puts his body chemistry to its natural use. If everyone put their testosterone to use that way, there’d be no shrinks. He’s what ‘Fight Club’ was about.”
The best most men in Hollywood can do is play roles like Ernie Wolfe and then go to the Ivy and fight for the best table. There aren’t many places in the middle of a city the size of Los Angeles where you can eat dinner in the same room as the scuba tanks of the guy who caught the main course.
Indeed. Wolfe seems like quite the character. The College ought to invite him to give a talk.
It is not clear how he finances this lifestyle. Perhaps there is more money in selling African Art to rich people in LA than I would have imagined. Best part:
He met [his wife] Diane for the first time when she was in third grade and he was in seventh. ”He was friends with my big brother, and he wouldn’t talk to me,” she says. ”Not until I was 24. It took a long time.” She had returned from a trip through Nepal, Sri Lanka and India, and a friend said, ”Ernie Wolfe likes adventure, too.” They have been together ever since. Ernie’s first dinner party was when he was at Williams College. His roommate’s mother went to the dean to have him kicked out of school when she heard that he had used dorm curtain rods to roast rabbit that he had caught.
Do we have any readers from the class of ’72 who know the whole story?
UPDATE: Slow-loading Google street view map removed.
Anyone know the background to this story?
Williams College President And Trustees sold property at 1541 Green River Road, Williamstown, for $329,000 to Jericho Valley Ventures LLC.
Who is/are Jericho Valley Ventures?
It would be interesting to have a list of all the College’s real estate transactions, over the last few years or since 1793. Do you think that Williams buys low and sells high?
While they’re here [at Swarthmore] their writing may improve, their skills in using various academic disciplines may deepen, their knowledge of a particular subject or field may grow very impressively. But many students who grow in those ways do not necessarily become better at speaking or at presenting themselves effectively, not even in the controlled environment of classroom discussion. To be honest, I think some of our students become worse at self-presentation and speaking skills in their time here. Some adapt too strongly to the narrow particularity of academic conversation. Other students get too used to political or social engagement with a community that politely indulges most of their demands or arguments or has a fairly strong consensus culture, never really experiencing serious disagreement or plurality of opinion. I’ve occasionally suggested, semi-seriously, that I feel like we train some students as the speaking and presentation equivalents of baby seals on the ice, waiting to get clubbed.
Indeed. I like to imagine that tutorials help with this. I have heard that some tutorials involve some serious and contentions back-and-forths between the students and with the professor. True? What was your experience in tutorials? One of the main reasons to end all lectures is that, the more small classes that students are in, the more they are forced into speaking in a public setting, even if it is one as supportive as a Williams classroom.
Congrats to Kelli [McDermott] Nayak ’95 for her induction into the Worcester Public Schools athletic hall of fame. Brain trauma researcher, star athlete, pediatrician, teacher, public servant, and mom of three? Wow. Nayak’s [former] name is still plastered all over the Eph softball record book. Sounds to me like a stellar candidate for a Bicentennial Medal …
Bishop Harry R. Jackson Jr. prays with Jonathan Paul Ganucheau and Denise Buckbinder Ganucheau of Dallas, Texas, before performing a religious wedding ceremony that was part of a protest against the District of Columbia city council’s approval of legislation recognizing same sex marriages performed in other states.
Today’s Boston Globe has a nice feature on Sam Flood ’83, producer of this year’s NHL Winter Classic (one of the very few good decisions the NHL has made in recent decades … now if only the league would move five teams from the sunbelt back to Canada …). Flood sounds excited for the opportunity:
“I know what hockey means to this town, and I know what the Bruins mean,’’ said Flood. “I know first-hand. I grew up with it. I know how much fun it is to feel the chill of the air and have the sky overhead as you’re skating. It’s a privilege and a passion to be a part of this, and we will absolutely do it right.’’
Speaking of Eph sports, don’t forget about Wednesday’s big men’s hoops match-up (barring a major upset of either team on Tuesday), in which 12th-ranked Williams will attempt to upset 5th-ranked Randolph Macon on RMC’s home court. Williams and RMC are two of only eleven undefeated teams in Division III. The game should be viewable via webcast here.
Media Matters asks: Why does the Washington Post keep running fluffy profiles of anti-gay activists?
Today’s [last month’s] Washington Post Style section features a profile of another anti-gay activist, Bishop Harry Jackson.
For 2,200 words, Post writer Wil Haygood tells readers about Jackson’s faith, and about his childhood. Haygood tells us Jackson “found himself” in the Bible after his “Daddy died.” We learn that during his working-class childhood, his parents scraped together money for tuition for private-school, where Jackson was, as he puts it, “the black kid at Country Day who stayed in the houses of wealthy white people.” We learn that he got into Harvard Business school, and was “smitten” when he ran into a childhood acquaintance, who he later married.
And we learn that Jackson’s critics are dangerous, angry people:
His admirers have multiplied, and so have his critics. More than once, police have stopped by his Southeast Washington apartment to check on his safety.
“I was in line someplace recently,” Jackson says, “and a woman who obviously opposes what I’m doing looked at me and said, ‘You better go back to Maryland.'”
His wife says: “We have been verbally abused by the best.”
Some of his appearances unleashed vitriol, even threats.
But we never really hear from Jackson’s critics.
Indeed. But you would if you read EphBlog!
In the Christian Spirit: Merry Christmas from all of us at EphBlog!
the little town where “Dude” is the most common first name and Dakine is a designer label.
Western Union reports the telegraph line from Quark Island, Maine is still down, although a sea-going tug is struggling valiantly to restore service.
How to Gain an Understanding of the History, Culture and Values — Spoken and Unspoken — of the College
There is no substitute for listening to people. Thus, I encourage you to spend at least your first few months (the first year if you are a president) in your new position asking everyone you meet what it is that you need to know to be effective in your new role. Listen rather than talk. Then follow up with an e-mail thanking those with whom you’ve talked.
Schedule meetings with academic and administrative departments, again to listen and learn. Choose a congenial setting and serve refreshments. (Note how often food is a component of my suggestions. Here, I was influenced by a friend who, as a dean, changed contentious faculty meetings into collaborative ones by serving wine and cheese.)
In your first months, at least several times a week, walk around the campus for an hour or two, stopping in faculty and staff offices to ask people to tell you about their work. Similarly, create occasions to talk with staff members who don’t have offices. For example, show up with coffee and donuts when the early shift of facilities staff or custodians or food service folks arrive. If people are working late at a time of pressure (e.g. the financial aid office at the end of the admissions cycle), arrive with pizzas, soft drinks and most of all thanks. Continue this practice of scheduling walk-around-the-campus time as often as you can, as long as you serve the institution.
Interesting throughout. What would you put in incoming-President Falk’s reading list?
Besides EphBlog, of course!
Based on the latest PACER filings, EphBlog’s (anonymous) legal counsel reports:
Anyone know why Williams uses EAPD? What do our legal readers think this exercise will end up costing Williams?
Background on the Beebe case: pdf.
Plaintiff was employed by Defendant for nearly fifteen years before being fired on August 4, 2003. She had worked as a snack bar attendant and, later, as a custodian in the building and grounds department. (Complaint ¶¶ 6-7.) In the course of her employment, Plaintiff received a copy of Defendant’s employee handbook which contained a copy of its family and medical leave policies. (Id. ¶ 38.)
On occasion between January of 2002 and July of 2003, Plaintiff took paid and unpaid leaves to care for her minor children’s medical needs. (Id. ¶¶ 8-11.) Whenever Plaintiff had to miss work to provide such care, she gave notice as required by Defendant’s policies. (Id. ¶ 12.) On July 1, 2003, however, Plaintiff received a written warning for excessive use of unscheduled time-off, although the warning acknowledged that many of her absences were related to the care of her children. (Id. ¶ 15.)
On July 23, 2003, Plaintiff herself became ill and, but for one day, thereafter remained out of work until August 4, 2003. (See id. ¶¶ 16-25.) When Plaintiff returned to work, her supervisor informed her that she had been fired, handed her a final paycheck and gave her a letter indicating that her termination was the result of missing six days of work during the month of July. (Id. ¶¶ 26-28.)
Anyone know the backstory on this case? Beebe is a name with a long connection to Williams. Although Williams used (still uses?) EAPD in that case, the attorneys were different: Patricia M. Higgins and Judith A. Malone.
Wick Sloane ’76 writes:
Foiled. At 1:45 a.m. By a pop-up window on our classroom SMART Board. “The system will shut down for routine maintenance in 180 seconds.”
I had to hurry to save our work. For my final Bunker Hill Community College Fall 2009 English 111 midnight class, I’d forgotten to ask my IT friends about system status. There went my pedagico/journalistico coup de grace — my students were going to write this column. We were going to file, photos and all, from class.
The class, 9 over the finish line out of 14 starters, was happy to leave the work to me. Forty-eight large pizzas and 32 large meatball grinders, and who knows how much coffee, since September, and we made it. The idea no one believed in — midnight classes — had worked, my English section and the Tuesday night class, Psych 101.
Colleagues had taught me to bring food to off-hours courses. You just don’t know when a community college student has eaten. One night, I went in early — 10 p.m. The food vanished. Who might be hungrier than midnight students? The overnight cleaning crew. I just went back to Harvard House of Pizza, our family local, for another order. Nasser Khan, the owner, told me that his son, now at Northeastern, had started college at BHCC.
Since the students will read this, I’d better respect what I said anyone writing anything must use — Aristotle and the rhetorical triangle. Hitting the three points, I am the author. You are the audience.
Read the whole thing. How many Ephs affected so many lives for the better in 2009? I didn’t. Did you?
Interesting article in Inside Higher Ed on libraries.
What started as a debate over whether brick-and-mortar libraries would survive much further into the 21st century turned into an existential discussion on the definition of libraries, as a gathering of technologists here at the 2009 Educause Conference pondered the evolution of one of higher education’s oldest institutions.
“Let’s face it: the library, as a place, is dead,” said Suzanne E. Thorin, dean of libraries at Syracuse University. “Kaput. Finito. And we need to move on to a new concept of what the academic library is.”
Exactly correct. (See this post for lots of useful background.) It makes little sense to store tens of thousands of physical volumes in the center of the Williams campus. The delay in the completion of the Stetson-Sawyer library may prove a blessing in disguise. The Record reported:
Another issue brought up at the meeting was the continued delay of the ultimate phase of the Stetson-Sawyer project: the construction of the new library, which was originally slated to begin last year.
At last week’s meeting, Lenhart expressed doubt that construction would resume in the next year, a sentiment echoed by Dave Pilachowski, College librarian and chair of the Stetson-Sawyer Committee.
According to Pilachowski, a decision will have to be made at or before the upcoming April Board meeting in order for construction to begin next fall. “The Board will be making the decision on resuming the project,” he said. “It seems highly unlikely at this time that the decision will be made to authorize construction in April.”
Pilachowski said that a significant upswing in market performance would be necessary in order for the project authorization to occur.
“For this to happen, we’d need to see a more advantageous alignment of affordable regional construction pricing, a reduction in the cost of borrowing money, and significantly more room in the College’s operating budget to absorb the increase in interest payments that will be generated when we launch the project,” he said.
Good. The project should be scrapped and rethought. We probably need to tear down Sawyer and fix up Stetson, but we don’t need to do it in a such a way that the center of campus is filled with little used books and journals. Previous (fun!) discussion here.
This American Life visits Penn State (MP3 download)
Adam Kotsko defends lectures at Insider Higher Ed.
One of the most entrenched opinions in discussions of pedagogy in higher ed is that classes should ideally be discussion-based, with lecturing kept to an absolute minimum. Lectures, we are told, fail to teach students in an enduring way, because they inculcate a passive learning style that results in information being stored only long enough to be “regurgitated” on an exam and forgotten soon after. By contrast, conventional wisdom holds, students are unlikely to forget what they learn in the context of a discussion, because they have to work hard to come up with their own answers. In this context, the consistent reports from students that they want more lectures are dismissed as laziness on their part, a reflection of a less-developed learning style that we need to challenge rather than coddle.
The goals of critical thinking are the only possible goals of a liberal arts education, and I support them without reservation. Yet you can’t jump straight to them, and I think that a lot of the ways people talk about pedagogy assume that you can — and what enables them to do that is to assume that the books can handle the data transmission just fine. We need to take seriously the fact that on many important levels, freshmen (and not just freshmen) don’t know how to read. It’s a fixable problem, but it’s a real one.
Not at a place like Williams. The only students who “don’t know how to read” are those, mostly caetgory X and category Y, who probably shouldn’t be at Williams in the first place. (I even doubt that this is a major problem among the weaker Williams students.) Lectures only work better, at most, for lazy students and arrogant professors. Since Williams should work toward making its students less lazy and its professors less arrogant, we should get rid of lectures. Full argument here. Highlights:
Third, the smaller the class, the more learning occurs. Consider Diana Davis’s ’07 description of her high school experience:
“I went to a high school where every single class – English, biology, history, math, economics, Greek – was a discussion class with 13 students or fewer. I have not taken a single class at Williams where I have learned as much, learned as deeply, or remembered as much a year later as I did in my classes in high school.”
Now, most of us did not have the good fortune of going to a high school like Diana’s. Yet no one makes the opposite claim; no one argues that students learn more in lecture than they do in discussion.
Fourth, there would be no better way for Williams to demonstrate to potential applicants that it is a different place, with different values, than by drawing a line at 15 students or so per class. If Williams had no lectures, then there would be less doubt about its educational superiority. The tutorial program already provides Williams with a leadership position in undergraduate education. Abolishing lectures would do even more.
Outlawing class sizes above 19 would be the single best thing that incoming President Adam Falk could do in his first two years at Williams. Will he take the chance?
Looking for some early Christmas presents? Me too! How about three of the latest filings in the Bernard Moore civil suit against Williams? See here, here and here. Much of this is material that we have already seen. Sad to read about Moore’s medical troubles. Can other readers highlight the interesting parts? I won’t have easy computer access for the next two weeks.
from: Adam Falk
to: WILLIAMS STUDENTS
date: Mon, Dec 21, 2009 at 2:08 PM
subject: Administrative Announcement
To the Williams Community,
Greetings from Baltimore. As the fall term winds down and April 1 approaches, I’m eager to be with you more regularly. As the next step, I’ll be focused on Williams matters generally one day a week, often in Williamstown, from January through March.
In other transition news, I’m pleased to update you on the terms of service of the faculty’s senior administrators.
Karen Merrill has decided that her term as Dean of the College should end as planned this June 30th. I’m impressed by the dedication and care that she’s brought to this position. She certainly can return to fulltime teaching and research with a deep sense of satisfaction. I’ll be consulting with the Faculty Steering Committee on selecting her successor.
Following consultation with the Committee, I’ve asked Bill Wagner and Bill Lenhart to serve as Dean of the Faculty and Provost, respectively, through the 2010-11 academic year, and they have agreed. I hope you’ll join me in thanking them for the distinguished service they’ll continue to provide to the Williams community in these roles, and in the case of Bill Wagner for his exceptional and ongoing responsibilities as Interim President.
Andrea Danyluk will remain Acting Dean of the Faculty until Bill Wagner resumes those duties April 1. To her, as well, we are all grateful.
Williams is fortunate to have faculty willing and able to fill these important and demanding roles. It’s one of the many reasons why I’m so looking forward to joining this remarkable community.
(thanks to ’10 for posting)
See below for some of the key documents/statements associated with the Hardy House takeover. What others am I missing? (I am gathering reading material for our upcoming January seminar. Suggestions welcome!)
Fun Eph discussion at the 2:20 mark about Clarence Otis ’77 and the quarterly conference call for Darden, the company of which he is the CEO. (Link here if embedded video does not appear.)
We need more Williams chess blogging! Who can explain how Tianyue Zhou beat Amherst?
White to move and win a pawn.
Expert commentary sought!
Powerpoint Karaoke is an event where brave people volunteer to present a random deck of Powerpoint slides they’ve never seen before. The slide decks used in Powerpoint Karaoke are often real presentations pulled at random from the web. The event tests the presenter’s confidence, quick thinking, and public speaking skills; the audience often joins in to heckle or offer suggestions, creating a piece of impromptu performance art around what probably started life started as a banal corporate presentation.
First conceived a few years ago by a group of German artists, Powerpoint Karaoke has caught on at tech conferences. Public humiliation has its prize: the winner of the Powerpoint Karaoke 2009 tournament will be announced at CES, which is kind of a big deal.
Brandi Brown ’07 is a quarterfinalist for her PPT Karaoke performance:
You can watch other performances in the running as well as vote for Brandi here: Powerpoint Karaoke 2009 brackets. You can vote once per day per bracket, and the final winners will be announced Dec. 31. The losing quarterfinalists will be eliminated Tuesday at noon, so vote early and vote often!
Also, this from the Globe:
Of all the loathed tools of office oppression, PowerPoint is probably Public Enemy No. 1. Its critics liken it to a Procrustean bed for ideas, one that dilutes real passion and innovation into an endless stream of bullet points. Anyone who doubts that PowerPoint can suck the life out of even the most inspiring talk can check out the hilariously banal PowerPoint version of the Gettysburg Address (norvig.com/Gettysburg/index.htm).