Pecha Kucha

What’s really annoying, too, is that there was a session of really famous scholars who had some fascinating material, real research, but the MLA forced them into some new-fangled Japanese format where the talk is supposed to be structured like an elevator pitch. These scholars (none of whom was extremely young, obviously) rose to the challenge and delivered their talks in 6 minutes 40 seconds each. But these were people who had real kick-ass material. The audience wanted to hear more!

Wouldn’t it have made more sense to get the Twitter-praising youngsters to cut their talks down to 6 minutes and let serious scholars who actually have something to say talk for the full 20 minutes?

I often get bored during talks and start getting distracted but these presentations were so interesting I heard every word. These are people who went into archives and found some really new, fascinating material. But they weren’t allowed to tell us much.

When the Spanish-speaking presenters first told me they were going to have to use the pechacucha format, I thought they were using some inventive swear word in Spanish.

4 thoughts on “Pecha Kucha

  1. Everything’s getting categorized, pigeonholed, compacted. That’s what makes the current crop of the “in-charge” think to force something into some kind of a designated format, regardless if said format is actually fitting for the subject at hand or not.


    1. “Everything’s getting categorized, pigeonholed, compacted”

      The end of the nation state also means a de facto (whether people want it or not) return to a guild/apprentic system where a good part of the master’s efforts are devoted to making sure that the apprentice learns as slowly as possible.

      Completely predictable for those who know what’s happend (and likely to happen again). It will take naive types by surprise (or they won’t notice because they’ve already been sufficiently dumbed down).


  2. In my town there are pechakucha nights a couple times a year. It’s a chance for members of the community to share a passion they have, and it can be really fun. The inventors of PK require that events be held in a place that serves alcohol (although from what I can see, plenty of people don’t drink) so the effect is as much social as informational. Also, the format means that if someone hasn’t mastered the genre or their presentation is inherently boring, it’s over quickly. The most successful presentations tend to be those from people who have grasped that the purpose is to tell a story mostly through images.

    For a night out? Lots of fun. As a way to present serious scholarly work, particularly scholarship in a text-heavy field? Hell no.


    1. Even in the business world it makes sense. Or in academic administration if you want shorter minutes. But at the conference, one of the presenters was talking so fast to fit it all in that I had trouble following.


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