Monday, June 12, 2023

Please Share Your Slides When You Start Your Talk

I know that some people lament death by Powerpoint, but I find a speaker's slides generally valuable as both a listener and a speaker. Yes, many people (including me!) could do better with slides, but I find them useful. As a speaker, they help me keep track of everything I want to say, and drive home some points with visuals or reference lists. As a listener, I can keep track of what is being talked about, pursue any references I might be interested in further, and view graphics that often bring home points that words (especially spoken-only)  do not.

My general practice when giving a talk is to post a PDF of my slides to my Web site, often with a list of references cited in the talk, and then tweet out a link to the PDF. I also send the PDF to the sponsor of my talk for distribution to those attending. That way, those listening to me do not need to be snapping pictures with their phones or writing things on the slides down when they want to remember something on one of my slides.

Based on my practices, I find it frustrating when speakers do not share their slides. Sometimes they provide them later, which is still far from ideal, but some speakers never provide them at all. When these happen, you see many listeners in the room taking pictures of slides they want to remember.

It would be much easier if all speakers would share at least a PDF of their slides right at the start of their talks. There really cannot be anything so proprietary, especially in an academic talk, that cannot be shared when those in the audience are snapping pictures and, as is sometimes the case, posting the photos to social media.

I hope that speakers I will be listening to in the future will adopt this advice. I certainly plan to keep my present practice in this regard.

Tuesday, June 6, 2023

Reports of My Retirement Are Greatly Exaggerated

As most of my world knows, I stepped down as Chair of the Department of Medical Informatics & Clinical Epidemiology (DMICE) at Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) at the end of last year. In addition to announcements made by OHSU, I let my world know with postings in this blog, on social media, and via some email lists.

I was gratified by the many nice accolades that I received but one thing was unsettling. This was those who wrote to congratulate me on my retirement. It was unsettling because I wanted to make explicit that I was not retiring, and instead was passing on the leadership to others, initially to interim leaders from the department and eventually culminating in a search for a new permanent Chair. In the meantime, I would continue the teaching, research, writing, and mentoring activities that I enjoy so much.

Nearly a half-year in to my new status, I am indeed enjoying it. I still wake up each work day and get to do the intellectual work of informatics that I love most. My circumstance brings to mind a famous quote, yet which he probably never said, by Samuel Clemons (Mark Twain) that reports of his death were greatly exaggerated.

I am therefore please to state that reports of my retirement are indeed exaggerated. I hope to continue working and be productive in the field for many more years. In fact, my plate is as full as ever, and my main work going forward will continue on the teaching, research, and funded grant projects that currently keep me busy.

My "plate" includes, among other things, the following major activities:

As can be seen, I have plenty to keep me busy for some time to come. I plan to continue my work on all of above while supporting the new leadership of the department as it evolves in novel and interesting directions.