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Prezi, the Zooming Presentation Tool
February 24, 2010 6:21 PM   Subscribe

Power corrupts. Powerpoint corrupts absolutely. There are many online alternatives to Powerpoint (like 280 Slides, Google Docs and Sliderocket), but nothing breaks the mold quite like Prezi.

From Prezi's about page:
Prezi is zooming sketches on a digital napkin.

It's visualization and storytelling without slides. Your ideas live on stage and on the web.

Have you ever wondered about presenting your thoughts as free as they come? Ever got tired of creating a slideshow? It's been said, that the best innovations come from people who are unhappy with the tools they use. We realized that our ideas won't fit into slides anymore. Putting together creative thinking and technology expertise, we have created Prezi, a living presentation tool.
posted by Hildegarde (66 comments total) 71 users marked this as a favorite

 
I'm currently reading a book by cstross where PowerPoint is actually used for soul stealing purposes.

(I went book shopping and picked up books by both him and jscalzi)
posted by ODiV at 6:25 PM on February 24, 2010


The library at my workplace used Prezi just recently - it looks very flash.
posted by Paragon at 6:29 PM on February 24, 2010


- "Web 2.0" PPT Knockoff
- Hipsterish Crap
- On the blue?
- And Broken.
- Christ.
    - Snark
posted by mhoye at 6:30 PM on February 24, 2010


Good for when you want your presentation to appear more interesting and informative than it really is.
posted by demiurge at 6:32 PM on February 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


Too many sharp edges on their website. Why can't they make it with rounder edges?
posted by Babblesort at 6:32 PM on February 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


Clearly it should be: Power corrupts. Powerpoint corrupts pointedly.
posted by Kattullus at 6:32 PM on February 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


Keynote > *
posted by entropicamericana at 6:33 PM on February 24, 2010


What's broken, mhoye?
posted by Hildegarde at 6:35 PM on February 24, 2010


entropicamericana: > *

Well, now I know the emoticon for off-center sphincter.
posted by Kattullus at 6:37 PM on February 24, 2010


What's broken, mhoye?

I think it's something in the Presentation layer.
posted by defenestration at 6:37 PM on February 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


The guy in the Prezi video needed to rehearse a little more.
posted by brain_drain at 6:39 PM on February 24, 2010


Unless they've developed a way to actually physically hurt the user when they try to create a list of bullet points, this will be no improvement over Powerpoint.
posted by mr_roboto at 6:40 PM on February 24, 2010 [3 favorites]


Carrying an automatic with a fresh clip of bullet points, in walks The Presenter. ♪ Da Duh DAH! ♪
posted by Babblesort at 6:44 PM on February 24, 2010 [4 favorites]


It's pretty neat, but I'm really not ready to rent software yet, unless it's software that comes with some sort of service, like Email hosting. I might have bought this if I could just pay a one-off license and get a desktop app that lets me create and play back presentations.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 6:45 PM on February 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


There's some people in one of my classes doing a project on this. Small world.
posted by sperose at 6:46 PM on February 24, 2010


It comes with a very nice free educational license. I think the free version (non edu) is watermarked in someway, but otherwise can be used with out renting.
posted by Hildegarde at 6:47 PM on February 24, 2010


Specifically, it looks like somebody who has flashblock installed will see the "click here to play a 1-minute video" option, and that will then pinwheel forever.

More philosophically, what's broken is the idea that tarting up an idea with flash will improve it.
posted by mhoye at 6:47 PM on February 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


Someone woke up on the wrong side of the bed this morning.
posted by Hildegarde at 6:50 PM on February 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think I heard (yes, this might be a rumor) that Powerpoint 2010 will basically have the same zooming capabilities of Presi. Which is great, if the user can find the damn feature under all that Ribbon.
posted by hanoixan at 6:51 PM on February 24, 2010


I can vouch for what mhoye just said about what you see with Flashblock. Except for the forever part. I only lasted about two seconds of pinwheeling before I gestured back.
posted by Babblesort at 6:51 PM on February 24, 2010


Yeah, I've got a case of the mondays. Maybe I can get Prezi in cornflower blue?
posted by mhoye at 6:51 PM on February 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


When I have information to convey, my main problem is rarely that I don't have something that I can shine on a wall to simulate an overhead projector. My main problem is organizing my thoughts to make a simple, clear and compelling case. Powerpoint never helps with this. Does Prezi?
posted by DU at 6:57 PM on February 24, 2010 [5 favorites]


Psst, all the cool kids are using Showoff
posted by jsavimbi at 6:58 PM on February 24, 2010 [4 favorites]


I don't usually post comments in threads I have posted, so I'm breaking all my own rules, but...

DU, I find ppt really painful to use. I create slides and then feel really uncomfortable when presenting from them. I have always assumed that I can't do the oral and visual together. I'm currently completely addicted to Prezi. I find it dead easy and comfortable to present with, and I find myself using it to construct a presentation or meeting even if I don't think I'll use prezi for it. I've adopted it as a kind of brainstorming, presentation-construction tool as well.

YMMV, of course.
posted by Hildegarde at 7:01 PM on February 24, 2010


PowerPoint is the opiate of the presenting class.
posted by Confess, Fletch at 7:07 PM on February 24, 2010 [9 favorites]


The video reminded me of this
posted by sanko at 7:07 PM on February 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'm not that familiar with other freebie presentation software that's out there -- but in ten minutes, I was able to use it like a white board, and while I'd never use it for a professional presentation in my current life, anywhere I can throw ideas at quickly might get used again.

Thanks for the post.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 7:08 PM on February 24, 2010


Prezi is zooming sketches on a digital napkin.

"I was given this napkin."

"Fuck this! Fuck the napkin!"
posted by Horace Rumpole at 7:11 PM on February 24, 2010


If I could, for a moment, rise above my deep hatred for flash I could perhaps add a meaningful comment to the discussion.
posted by localhuman at 7:12 PM on February 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


It looks pretty, but I don't think it can woo me away from LaTeX + Beamer class.
posted by Someday Bum at 7:16 PM on February 24, 2010 [5 favorites]


I've used it for work stuff, precisely for the purpose of jazzing up information that was otherwise fairly boring, and it worked a treat. It's *especially* good for illustrating cyclical or otherwise interlinked ideas: you can zoom in for the detail, but you never really lose sight of the big picture. Makes a great change from the linearity of ppt. .

Not mad-keen on the licence. If they're gonna hurt me by the year, they should be much cheaper, but this said the free version is fine.
posted by smoke at 7:20 PM on February 24, 2010


More zoomie-flashie-wowie is not an answer. At least not for scientific presenting. In fairness, their demo does beautifully illustrate how prezi can make a presentation devoid of content resemble watching a movie devoid of content.
posted by TomStampy at 7:21 PM on February 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


I've been waiting since this video to see something done with Seadragon. Fantastic!
posted by Pope Guilty at 7:23 PM on February 24, 2010


Nothing beats the overhead.
However, my public speaking teacher said I was "being difficult" when I presented it as an option for my speech instead of that MONSTER PowerPoint.
posted by lhude sing cuccu at 7:23 PM on February 24, 2010


Well their demo presentation took 60 seconds to open, freezing my browser completely. It takes 50% of my CPU sitting still, and 80% once I start scrolling or zooming. (I bet it would run great on an iPhone though, gosh why won't Steve Jobs stop claiming that Flash sucks?)
posted by nicwolff at 7:24 PM on February 24, 2010


First off, the Prezi presenters dead eyes terrified me.

Secondly, PPTFlex, from Microsoft Labs, does some of the same stuff, except, I think, better.

Also, isn't PowerPoint hating old news? It beats actual slides or overheads in either the classroom or academic conferences....
posted by blahblahblah at 7:52 PM on February 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm in a theory/philosophy class where Prezi's used, and it works pretty well. The class discussion jumps around a lot, so a non-linear presentation is a much better fit. The pictures and videos are integrated better than those in other PP presentations I've seen. Most complaints about Prezi are that it's difficult to print out for study/open book exam purposes.
posted by Anali at 7:52 PM on February 24, 2010


This is a means of making comic books. Quote end quote. Field of vision moving around on a single surface? Just like the Sunday funnies.
posted by eccnineten at 7:55 PM on February 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


Also, isn't PowerPoint hating old news? It beats actual slides or overheads in either the classroom or academic conferences....

There's nothing wrong with PowerPoint. It does its job marvelously. The problem is, as usual, how people use it. Blaming PowerPoint for bad presentations is like blaming Internet Explorer for this.

I guess you could blame PowerPoint for giving the people the tools to make bad presentations, but that's still not the core of the problem.
posted by Jimbob at 7:56 PM on February 24, 2010


Obligatory Gettysburg Powerpoint Presentation link.
posted by neuron at 7:58 PM on February 24, 2010


Of course old habits die hard, says he watching the Prezi demonstrator speaking word for word the exact content that is on the non slide behind him.
posted by jeremias at 7:58 PM on February 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


@localhuman:

I don't get the hatred of Flash. A very long time ago, bad web designers seemed to believe that shitty Flash intros pages were mandatory, but that hasn't been true since Jesus was in nappies. Flash doesn't crash my browser any more often than the plethora of other reasons that browsers crash. Few web designers build pages entirely in Flash, but rather only for certain features -- most streaming video sites seem to utilize Flash -- which means that the can't-bookmark-pages, can't-use-the-back-button objections are generally not true.

Flash pages show up in modern search engines results and it exists for Linux.

So why the hatred? Is it the accessibility issue (which is the fault of the designer, not the tool), or of standards and openness?

Whatever the reason, "deep hatred" seems a trifle absurd.
posted by Chasuk at 8:01 PM on February 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


You can still use Powerpoint for the Lessig Method. It works for almost everything (except for scientific data, as I learned the hard way). Argh, the guilt. Must donate more money to the EFF after watching this.
posted by halogen at 8:04 PM on February 24, 2010


Some companies won't let you put proprietary content or process docs on a cloud server like this but otherwise this is not bad.
posted by Skygazer at 8:05 PM on February 24, 2010


Flash doesn't crash my browser any more often than the plethora of other reasons that browsers crash.

Really? What browser are you using that this is the case? I run Firefox 3.5 and Chromium under Linux and Flash is responsible for probably 90% of my browser crashes.
posted by signalnine at 8:05 PM on February 24, 2010


sanko: "The video reminded me of this"

My God why doesn't that site have its own FPP?
posted by yiftach at 8:06 PM on February 24, 2010


Flash for Mac and Linux is a lot slower and less stable than in Windows.
posted by zixyer at 8:17 PM on February 24, 2010


There is actually an add-on for Office that allows you to do Powerpoint presentations in a similar style:

http://www.officelabs.com/pptplex

That being said, I'm not sure if either this or Prezi are really The Next Big Thing. After all, how many of you seriously use animations in a Powerpoint presentation as it is?
posted by dubitoergosum at 8:23 PM on February 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


I do [use animations].. but the license model for Prizi appears to be a total non-starter. Ignoring the cost of the pro version, a completely standalone, not tied to the net version is really mandatory. When I use PPT, I generally do not have a net connection, and nothing that involves an external entity having a copy, encrypted or not, of internal plans is going to fly.
posted by rr at 8:32 PM on February 24, 2010


(and you need to be able to hand the preso to someone and they need to be able to watch it.. again without it going onto some external company's servers...)
posted by rr at 8:33 PM on February 24, 2010


After all, how many of you seriously use animations in a Powerpoint presentation as it is?

I have a presentation I am going to give in San Francisco in May and would love to do a sequence in Power Point where I rotate a graph from 2-D space to orthogonal space, then slide in four more like it to talk about how changes in my second variable effect the result, ultimately ending with a 3-D graph.

So I took a look at the Powerpoint animation stuff.

I'm going to make a time machine out of a cardboard box instead.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 8:38 PM on February 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


@Chasuk, I am sorry to have been sarcastic. I actually do like flash, and I think Prezi is a good use of the technology. Perhaps I need a hamburger next time.
posted by localhuman at 8:39 PM on February 24, 2010


Good for when you want your presentation to appear more interesting and informative than it really is. posted by demiurge

Are you talking about PPT, Spazi, or just odd fonts in general?
posted by mecran01 at 9:01 PM on February 24, 2010


Chasuk,

Flash does exist for Linux, but it doesn't mean it really works (like, at all). None of the buttons of youtube, and most other websites, ever work for me. I'd like to echo SignalNine, and say that Flash singlehandedly ruins my browsing experience on both Chromium and Firefox in Linux. It also makes Firefox 3.5 on Windows grind to a halt quite often.

To your question about accessibility or standards and openness: All of the above.

Hopefully Flash is phased out by HTML5, fast.
posted by azarbayejani at 10:51 PM on February 24, 2010


OK, so I'm an old guy, and I got my BA just recently. In most of my classes, we had to do at least one presentation, and usually more. All the kidz used powerpoint for their presentations, and almost universally, they were dead boring. Almost all of them would show a slide, then read it to us, then do the same for the next slide.

I did my presentations old school, with handouts and writing on the whiteboard (OK, I did break down and do a little bit of powerpoint, but only where I felt it was necessary).

After watching so many bad presentations, I came up with a set of rules. If you can say it, don't show it, only show what you can't say, and print and hand out what you want your audience to take away with them.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 12:15 AM on February 25, 2010 [5 favorites]


Based on the first comment I expected Prezi to be like this. I was surprised it looked a lot better...
posted by DreamerFi at 5:25 AM on February 25, 2010


This sort of made me think of mindmapping. It looks kind of cool, but I agree with the criticism of the licensing models - if you come to rely on this as a standalone product, $159/yr is quite a lot for something you don't "own" that will just go into zombie mode if you don't pay.
posted by sagwalla at 5:27 AM on February 25, 2010


I'd use Prezi. If I had something to say.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 6:18 AM on February 25, 2010


Scott McCloud on TED 2005. Go to the "comics on the web" chapter.
posted by wobh at 6:22 AM on February 25, 2010


I really like the idea of being able to take some of the important parts of my presentation and hide them as microscopic little bits buried within a larger whole. Nothing is more effective than intentionally making the content of your presentation difficult to find! Oh sure, it looks all shiny and amazing on screen, but try reading back those important points from a printed copy.

Add in the idea that it can't be embedded anywhere, is proprietary, and requires an active net connection, and I'm completely sold on not using it for anything, ever.
posted by caution live frogs at 9:27 AM on February 25, 2010


Is it just me or does Prezi look a lot like Ahead?

One telling difference? At least Ahead eats its own dog food. They created their entire website using their own presentation software. Prezi? They use a video to describe their service. Why not use your own tools?

I far prefer offline applications for business. It gives me much more control over the application and the data (and is far more reliable, especially for important business presentations). The only Prezi option that allows you to work offline is $160 per year. So in three years Prezi Pro would cost me $480? That's $60 more than Newegg.com wants for Microsoft Office Professional 2007! Please note that I am not recommending MS Office, just putting Prezi's price into perspective. The Open Office alternative is free, works well enough and uses open standards.

I am not a fan of pay as you go software schemes. I'd rather own than rent.

And the deal breaker for both applications?

Flash.

Add me to the long list of people who want to see Flash die as quickly as possible.

So why the hatred? Is it the accessibility issue (which is the fault of the designer, not the tool), or of standards and openness?

A few reasons to hate Flash:
- proprietary, closed source
- bloatware (like most Adobe software)
- buggy and insecure
- poor support for FOSS operating systems (Linux)
- when you install Flash, Adobe tries to foist a download manager and McAfee Security Scanner on you (sure you can avoid them by scrolling down and clicking the direct download link but any company that asks you to install a download manager just to get a browser plugin is suspect in my books)
- privacy issues (local shared objects - sure they can be turned off but when you update Flash it turns them on again!)

The only good thing to come out of Flash? Flash video hastened (or is hastening) the death of RealPlayer, Quicktime and embedded Windows Media for in-browser video. Can't wait for HTML5 to rid the world of proprietary video plugins but I don't think it will happen any time soon (unfortunately). Die proprietary plugins, die!

On preview: What caution live frogs said.
posted by stringbean at 9:47 AM on February 25, 2010


Wow, some people really don't read the site much...

You can, and are encouraged to, back up your projects to your own machine, and then present them from a local system, no internet connection required.

There's a clear path you can establish through your presentation that brings you, inevitably, to those tiny bits of information you buried in your presentation (voluntarily, I assume) without having to hunt for them at all. You can go completely off-track, wander through your presentation to answer questions or go on tangents, and then get right back to your path with one button click.

The program lets you arrange your thoughts in a very granular form, organize them, and present them effectively and originally.

And I'm going to be presenting at a conference on Saturday about online resources for tabletop gaming GMs.

Metafilter, I love you. I'd marry you if it was at all legal.
posted by MrVisible at 9:52 AM on February 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


Oh, also... all the advanced tutorials are in Prezi. The video introduces you to the basic navigation you need to make your way through the tutorials.
posted by MrVisible at 9:54 AM on February 25, 2010


Add in the idea that it can't be embedded anywhere

Huh? I've embedded all the prezis I've made so far. Like this one.

And you can download and present offline for free.
posted by Hildegarde at 2:07 PM on February 25, 2010


Not only does the word Prezi look like the word "Pretzl" in that font they use, but the presentations give me motion sickness. I am not a prezi fan.
posted by k8lin at 5:45 PM on February 25, 2010


Motion sickness is right.

Prezi reminds me of CueCat:

"...fails to solve a problem which never existed."

When the novelty of this presentation gimmick wears off, people will realize that the price being asked is ludicrous for what you are really getting (very little).
posted by stringbean at 5:03 AM on February 26, 2010


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