Now Henry Farrell wants to give academics--well, political scientists, anyway--about the same amount of time for their conference presentations:
Mr. Farrell, an associate professor of political science at George Washington University, uses a blog post for The Monkey Cage to call for a system that would keep presentations at the American Political Science Association moving along—and that would cut them off after five minutes, or perhaps 10 as a compromise.To ensure that everyone stays within the time, he's not going to use the much-ignored red and green lights that MLA has used. Instead, he wants to use Ignite, a kind of software that makes PowerPoint slides change automatically every 15 seconds. If you only get 20 slides as a maximum length for your presentation--well, you do the math.
Of course, most of us in the humanities have papers rather than PowerPoints at conferences. I've heard roundtables with this 5-minute format, too, although a lot of times people go over those limits. Would this work for a real conference presentation in which an argument had to be developed, supported, and advanced, though?
The spinning plates association came up because I was imagining presenters in the humanities trying to time their talks according to the inexorably advancing slides, keeping all those ideas in the air as they raced frantically through their material. Add a little Khachaturian to a presentation like that, and you've got yourself a YouTube sensation!