March 20, 2011

Cloud slides... By hand

Yesterday, today, and for the next weekend, I’m attending an art workshop at Lasalle College of the Arts in Singapore, a beautiful building and, from what I know, a great Art school.

Doing “art”, or at least trying to, inspired me again. I was able to feel parts of my brain, of my soul, again. It’s like being a passionate motorbiker, and the moment when you ride a motorbike again after years of silence. Same thing. (Oh, by the way: did you know about my Evil Plan for 2011? It involves motorbikes. “Evil Plan” is inspired by a book by Hugh McLeod, here’s my review). I don’t define myself as an “artist”, but for sure I have a great passion for art and creativity, and I cannot express it that much lately.

I decided to immediately apply these new stimulus to my job, being a Technology Evangelist for, which implies giving a lot of PowerPoint presentations. I think that most of us focus TOO MUCH on PowerPoint, and too little on the effectiveness of our presentation. Also, most of our presentations are bullet points. They are supposed to be hand-outs, but they’re instead using during live presentations. That doesn’t bring what the audience wants. Yes, in the year 2011, still most presentations can be improved, by focusing more on the message, rather than on PowerPoint.

I consider myself better than the average, simply because I prepare and deliver presentations almost on a daily basis (I’m not at almost 300 presentations in the last three years), not because I have a better brain or I’m a genius. This means that with a little effort, anyone can improve any presentation.

I still think that there’s too much focus on PowerPoint. What to do? I decided to draw some new slides, by hand (with pencil and pen). Strange, right?

These are the results (click the image to see it bigger):

The above, Cloud Slide #1, simply says “Cloud Computing”, and it’s supposed to be used when you introduce the concept of Cloud Computing to the audience. No extra text here, just the “title”. If you want to know more about it, see what Wikipedia says about Cloud Computing.

The one above is the Cloud Slide #2. Amazon Web Services (which is the Cloud Computing platform I talk about, most of the times) is a set of building blocks: Storage, or Amazon S3; Computing, or Amazon EC2; etcetera. Amazon Web Services, or AWS, allows to use a combination of these building blocks, based on your specific needs. There are also tools that give you control on how the overall system behaves, such as Cloud Formation. This slide shows these “components”, or services, in the form of cubes with a little “dent” on the side, which represents their ability to be mixed together. It’s an idea, of course, and I’m sure that it can be improved.

Third, and last, some very “ugly” sketches for simple slides (on the upper part, you can see some nice drawings that I was doing during the class).

The one with the clock tries to explain how Amazon EC2 is billed: by the hour. Every hour, you pay an amount based on the cost of the Virtual Server you are running, times the number of Virtual Servers: Pay as you go, pay only for what you use. The others are less clear, just simple sketches that I was playing with.

What do you think? Comments? Would you like to see a presentation done this way, instead of the usual PowerPoint and bullet points?