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March 2008

Lawrence Lessig's last "Free Culture" presentation

Lessig_stanford08_2Yes, I have pointed to presentations by Stanford professor Larry Lessig many times before. And here is yet another. Below is Lessig's last presentation that he plans to ever give on "Free Culture." He gave this talk January 31, 2008 at Stanford University. Watch the video from Open Source Cinema.


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Many lines from Professor Lessig's talk stood out to me. Here's one of them from early in the talk.

"The problems we are attacking are often problems that aren't really constitutional problems, they're political problems. They're problems about an understanding. And it's the understanding not of... seven justices on the Supreme Court, it's the understanding of ordinary people. There's not enough that we do to frame these issues in terms that ordinary people can get. And in the end that is our biggest weakness: We're great at framing the issue in a way that a Supreme Court brief understands, but awful at framing the issue in a way that makes it understandable to the public."

                                                — Lawrence Lessig

Communication — especially when you're trying to change things in a big way — is certainly not only about preparation and delivery, it's also about strategy. This line by Lessig reminds me that we have to be clear, structured, and logical, but we also have to be talking to the right people (and at the right time). The best argument in the world is for naught if we're targeting the wrong audience (or if we have the right audience but are not speaking — really speaking — to them.)

On the "Lessig Method"
Lessig_1 Many people like Lessig's unique presentation style which blends a sort of professorial narrative in sync with quickly changing images and short bursts of text. But many are surprised that I can admire Lessig's style. But I look at my job as pointing you to successful people who present in many different ways. I never say that you should do it the way I do, or Steve Jobs does, or Larry Lessig does, or Al Gore, does, and on and on. No one approach or method is perfect, but we can learn by observing the new and the different as well as the traditional. For Professor Lessig, his style and his approach is his own and it works for him. Yes, it could be better (as we all could be). For example, I think it may be better if Professor Lessig used a more robust typeface (and at a larger size). In this presentation the use of the Disney font was fun (or ironic) but it was difficult to read at times. The use of a red text against this particular background (dark grey with gradation) was also not optimal. But overall, Lessig's style augments his content and his ability to connect with his particular audience. Overall, Lessig's method is remarkable, albeit different. I do not suggest you copy his style, but observe it with an open mind and see what bits of his method may (or may not) work for you and your unique needs.

Another Lessig slide presentation in Keynote
Also, watch this short Keynote slide presentation by Professor Lessig. This demonstrates how easy it is for someone to make a presentation with slides in sync with their narration and upload it to the net. The tool is very simple. (Link to the video on Lessig's blog).