February 10, 2006

A Rude Dude Presenter

Update: On the advice of my usually wise wife, I've revised this post by removing the name of the offender. I still stand by what I wrote, but have decided to focus on the rude act rather than on the actor. My point in writing this, really, was not directed at the presenter but rather the audience. We shouldn't enable this kind of thoughtlessness by politely standing by. A few years ago I watched another presenter knowingly go way over his time until someone in the audience stood up and pointed out to the speaker that he was cutting into the next guy's session. Half the audience cheered. We (in the audience) should do that more often.

One of the featured speakers at TCEA is someone who is everywhere on the speaker circuit these days, rebuilding the buzz as the release of his next book draws near. His first book was required reading in my games class several years ago so I was looking forward to hearing him speak. Yesterday I hustled over to the convention center for his 8:00 a.m. session.

Not a bad presentation, done in Lessig style with few words per slide, but it was mostly the same familiar stuff: thanks to a life of game/video/rich media exposure, kids are wired differently from the rest of us and must therefore be taught differently. Yeah, OK, maybe.

But here's my beef. Sessions at the conference were scheduled for 45 minutes with a 15 minute break in between. By 8:45, he was nowhere near the end of his slides, so he asked the audience if it was OK if he just kept on going past his time slot. Several hands were raised in assent, and he forged ahead.

Dave Thornburg was sitting next to me in the back row, waiting to go on stage at 9:00 with a presentation about Linux and he, understandably, was not OK with the presenter expanding his domain. Dave walked up to the front of the room and spoke to him, he nodded and then resumed.

By 8:55 the speaker was still plowing through his slides, (there were 160 of them, he told us proudly) and was clearly not about to stop until he got to the last one. Dave got up and stood right next to the stage waiting for the hint to be taken, but the slides just kept on coming until the stroke of 9:00, the last one supposedly being a punchline of sorts that just had to be shown. That left Thornburg with a time slot shortened by the time needed to get the other presenter unplugged, off stage and himself set up. The presenter was completely unapologetic.

Rude, rude, rude. An inconsiderate ass. Note to program chairs of future conferences: schedule people like this at the end of the day or give them a facilitator with a stun gun.


At 4:39 AM, Ewan McIntosh said...

I agree - it's rude and implies that what he has to say is more important than anyone else's. His Engage Me speech hasn't changed since last year. In the age where we're all blogged and podcast when we speak you can't get away with that. Nor can you get away with overrunning. It's not as if he couldn't have timed it beforehand. Like the rest of us do.

At 4:28 PM, Dean Shareski said...


I admire your (your wife's?) scruples. I think your intention with the post is valuable and I thank you for your transparency and professionalism in updating your post.....feel free to delete my previous comments as I am now very comfortable with your post.

At 5:25 PM, Matt Moore said...

That sounds like a great opportunity to hear Marc Prensky and Dave Thornburg within two hours. I am sorry to hear that Marc felt like he had to continue into the next slot. Dave Thornburg is actually a marvelous speaker, and I have been fortunate to hear him present at CUE conferences twice. The audience does not know what it missed by shortening Thornburg's presentation, and I am curious to hear what Dave Thornburng has to say about Linux. I just am looking for a small piece of the pie because I know it will keep growing.

At 8:04 PM, Bernie Dodge said...

Fortunately, Matt, it's been captured and podcasted by Wesley Fryer.

here it is.

At 8:21 PM, Matt Moore said...

Thanks for the note. I am listening to it now, and I subscribed to Wes' feed. I have been thinking about going all open-source personally and I was just commmenting to my students how this would help school districts with less money like it is already helping countries in the third world. Is anyone going to this format in San Diego to save money?

thanks for the help.

At 5:43 AM, Mike Huffman said...

I listened to the MP3 of David's speech and firmly believe in what he is saying about Linux. Open source can save $millions$ in classrooms across the nation and it is only going to get better!

We are working in Indiana to involve as many Linux vendors as possible. Our model is very cost-driven, puttng the focus where it belongs - on student learning. Application software supliers are beginning to take note.

March on!

Mike Huffman
Indiana Department of Education


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