Photo from Chile

Anyone Can Speak at cf.Objective! (for around six minutes)

Have you ever heard of Pecha Kucha? Sometimes referred to as 20 x 20, Pecha Kucha is an innovative presentation format in which you show 20 images, each for 20 seconds, resulting in a presentation that is six minutes and forty seconds long. It was invented by Astrid Klein and Mark Dytham of Klein Dytham architecture in Tokyo to give their fellow architects an opportunity to present their ideas. The format is designed to result in presentations that are fast-paced and focussed, essentially allowing the speaker to get one key idea across in an interesting and visual manner.

The idea has blossomed into a global movement of Pecha Kucha Nights, which are social gatherings as much as opportunities to hear about new and interesting topics and ideas. Although Pecha Kucha has been used extensively in "creative" fields such as design and architecture, it has also been used by those in the information technology realm. For example, XP Days Germany included a number of Pecha Kucha presentations on both the second and third day of the conference. Subjects covered included (translations from German by Google, so apologies for that):

  • Our Journey into the Agile Country
  • Continuous Open Space
  • Software Craftsmanship
  • Best Practices for Unit Testing of GUI Applications

As well, the Sydney Adobe Platform Users Group hosted their own 20 x 20 nite back in November, which included topics such as:

  • Creating a web server in 6 minutes
  • Building a boat in 9 years and 2 weeks
  • Browser Ghosting Attack
  • Mars Landscape

Providing perhaps a better introduction to the idea of Pecha Kucha, Daniel Pink of Wired Magazine wrote a short article on the format, which includes a sample Pecha Kucha presentation that he created to illustrate the idea.

So, why am I taking the time to introduce the idea of Pecha Kucha to you? I thought that it would be interesting to create a Pecha Kucha session at cf.Objective() in April of 2010. It will be held as a Birds of a Feather (BoF) session, and anyone who is interested in speaking and able and willing to put together a 20 x 20 presentation is welcome to do so. As with the Sydney night mentioned above, your topic does not have to be technology-based, but should have some appeal to a wider audience. If you'd be interested in participating as a presenter, please leave a comment or contact me directly at bob dot silverberg at gmail dot com to let me know.

If you think that you might be interested, but are a bit nervous or aren't sure how to proceed, please feel free to contact me and I can try to answer any questions you have, provide you with resources, and generally attempt to assuage your fears. I'll also be setting up a Google Wave for all of the presenters so we can share thoughts and ideas.

I think this could be a great opportunity for those who might not otherwise get to present at a conference, although this Pecha Kucha BoF is not limited to them. I also think it could be a heck of a lot of fun, so please consider offering to speak, if only for six minutes and forty seconds.

Great idea Bob--I was going to propose something along these lines to the steering committee, so I'm glad to see others also think this would be valuable.
# Posted By Matt Woodward | 12/18/09 11:06 AM
I agree that this can be a very educational time for both the presenters and the audience.

Having worked for a conferencing company, I do have things to consider in preparing logistics. Either do not allow time for formal Q&A or limit it to 1 or 2 questions so the next in line can go. Also, allow time for the actual swapping of one presenter and their laptop to the next. This could easily take 6 or more minutes in itself.
# Posted By Matt Williams | 12/18/09 11:26 AM
I think this would be great. I was thinking about suggesting ignite like presentations -- anything fast paced is a good idea.
# Posted By Peter J. Farrell | 12/18/09 11:26 AM
Thanks for the comments, guys. I'll put each of you on the list of people I'll be contacting to deliver presentations. ;-)

@Matt Williams: Good points. I'm leaning towards no Q&A, but I think things like that can be worked out as a group once we have people interested in presenting.

Because each preso will only consist of slides, and the fact that the slides are meant to be set up to automatically advance every 20 seconds, I was thinking that I could simply load all of the presos onto my own laptop (which can run Keynote, Powerpoint and Open Office) and run all of them from there. That would making switching presenters fairly painless.

I'm sure there are other things to consider, and I very much appreciate your input on this.
# Posted By Bob Silverberg | 12/18/09 1:25 PM
Very cool. I was always hoping there would be something like lightning talks at cf.Objective. Never thought about doing it during a BOF session. You can count me in for 6 minutes ;)
# Posted By Kurt Bonnet | 12/18/09 2:57 PM
This is similar to what I keep meaning to suggest (for Scotch, or other UK-based confs).
I'd rather see a handful of short but focused talks for each single long talk. Even if it's on something I'm not directly interested in -- a good presentation on any topic is nearly always more enjoyable to watch than a long one.
# Posted By Peter Boughton | 12/22/09 1:43 PM