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Prezi June 26, 2010

Posted by Brian L. Belen in Odds and Ends, Presentations, Reviews, Technology.
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Any number of presentation software are commercially available today. Of course, Keynote (my preference) and Powerpoint are mainstays, as are cloud-based lookalikes such as Google Documents and Zoho.

And then there’s Prezi.

For all intents and purposes, Prezi is actually internet-based mind-mapping software that makes it easy to present relationships between concepts (interestingly, a presentation made using Prezi is also called a Prezi). Indeed, it seems particularly suited for conveying context, such as how minute details fit into the big picture, allowing one to zoom in and zoom out from disparate thoughts at a click of the mouse. After all, it is dubbed as the “zooming presentation editor.”

In this sense it is a welcome break from the presentation-as-slide-deck paradigm, taking us back to “thinking on paper” where individuals are free to explore diagrams in any order or, if so required, in the order a presenter intends. Prezi allows that: one can approach preparing a Prezi like writing on a clean bond paper or a whiteboard for users to wade through as they see fit, or prompt it to go through points on that sheet in a pre-arranged fashion. Regardless of which approach one chooses, using Prezi requires a somewhat different planning and design sensibility as one would employ using slideware, which I learned by struggling to make a Prezi of my own (see link below).

Offhand, I can see how Prezi can be used as a tool for organizing discussion in a classroom or business setting. Based on some sample Prezis available on the site, I can also appreciate how it can be used to put together some stunning presentations. But there are limitations. While the service is free to use and try — especially for students and educators! — unless one invests in a premium account you will be limited to creating your Prezis online (thus, an internet connection is required) and downloading viewable (non-editable) versions for your computer (both PC and Mac are supported). These offline-viewable Prezis are very good, but I’ve experienced two problems with them thus far. One is that there are instances where graphics don’t display properly in the downloaded version, a problem that may have something to do with my internet connection speed (to load my Prezi online and thereafter download it) as well as the size and format of the images I used. In their place were “circles” where they were supposed to be, clearly not having been downloaded.

The second problem is the viewing consistency of the online Prezi and its offline version. For the one Prezi I’ve prepared so far, regardless of the fact that it presents precisely as I want it to on my browser, the downloaded version has more often than not showed much more than I desired it to for given frames. To me this is crucial, as I intended for some concepts and imageries to be captured and displayed in a precise manner. My guess is that the culprit is a difference in screen/projector resolution, though I honestly haven’t had much time as yet to experiment and find out more. Fortunately, this is only a problem for those in desperate need of such precision, if not those too steeped in slideware to think a little bit differently.

Prezi is free to sign up for and use. I’d recommend it. Just for posterity, here’s the Prezi I put together for the launch of WIWAG Business Weeks under Bato Balani Foundation. I’ll have more to say about that (maybe) in a another post. Note that this isn’t the most effective use of Prezi, but good enough for me to sample what it can do:

[Link: BBFI by the Numbers on Prezi]

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