Re: Presentation vs. Discussion sessions (was: PowerPoint considered harmful)

Randall Gellens <> Thu, 13 December 2012 05:33 UTC

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Date: Wed, 12 Dec 2012 21:32:00 -0800
To: Keith Moore <>,
From: Randall Gellens <>
Subject: Re: Presentation vs. Discussion sessions (was: PowerPoint considered harmful)
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At 1:37 PM -0500 12/2/12, Keith Moore wrote:

>  On 12/02/2012 01:06 PM, Melinda Shore wrote:
>>  There's a whole nexus of connected issues here, I think, and what
>>  a given person complains about depends on that person's pet peeves.
>>  It seems to me that if we were better about moving work forward
>>  between meetings (<- peeve!) meeting time wouldn't be chewed up
>>  with presenting the current state of the work.
>  While I fully agree that most WGs could be better at moving work 
> forward between meetings, I don't think it would solve the problem 
> of face to face meeting time being filled up with presentations.
>  I suspect that most WG participants have difficulty keeping up with 
> the traffic on their WGs' mailing lists for various reasons (too 
> much "distraction" from normal work, the sad state of mail user 
> agents, etc.). By forcing people to travel away from work, 
> face-to-face meetings serve as useful interruptions from normal 
> distractions and opportunities to catch up on IETF work.  If 
> working groups moved forward even faster than they do now, that 
> might actually be seen to increase the need for presentations at 
> face-to-face meetings.
>  Occasionally I've wondered if IETF meetings should have 
> "presentation" sessions separate from (and in advance of) "working" 
> sessions.    The difference between the two types of session would 
> be clearly indicated in the schedule.   The presentation sessions 
> would be geared toward presenting an overview of current state of 
> the proposals, including a summary of recent changes.   Perhaps 
> participants would be allowed to ask questions for clarification, 
> but discussion should be discouraged and any kind of polling of the 
> room or other decision making would be forbidden.  The presentation 
> meetings would therefore be optional for those who had kept up on 
> the mailing list.   And presentations would be forbidden in 
> discussion sessions.
>  I can imagine these being useful in several ways, e.g. in 
> facilitating better cross-group and cross-area review.   People who 
> were active participants in working groups could attend 
> presentation sessions of other groups, without sacrificing their 
> attendance in the discussion sessions of the groups in which they 
> were active.
>  Perhaps roughly the first 2(?) days of an IETF meeting could be 
> largely devoted to presentation sessions, and the remainder of the 
> time to discussion sessions.    Having a strict allocation of time 
> for each kind of session isn't so important as having the 
> presentation sessions for a particular group well in advance of the 
> discussion session for that group.
>  This is something that could be tried on a small scale, by a few 
> working groups (say one in each area) before being widely adopted. 
> It might help, however, to have explicit support for the idea in 
> the tools that maintain and display the meeting schedules.

My initial reaction was "No!" with a gut reaction that it would 
worsen the problems we have, but the more I've thought about this, 
the more I like it.  I've now come around to thinking this could be a 
really good idea.  Instead of fighting to hold back the tide, we 
accept it and figure out how to deal with it.  Yes, let's try it.

Randall Gellens
Opinions are personal;    facts are suspect;    I speak for myself only
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There are two ways of constructing a software design: One way
is to make is so simple that there are obviously no
deficiencies, and the other way is to make it so complicated
that there are no obvious deficiencies."     --C. A. R. Hoare