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Using the Finder: to talk

Pete Bradshaw and I travelled to Chester to the ITTE (Information Technology in Teacher Education) conference and managed to convince the conference organisers (it wasn't that hard!) that we could present in the free-slot.

Pete and I decided to do a session on the Distributed School concept....and we had little time to put something together.

Having spent two days listening to people present and be driven by PowerPoint presentations..... some of the less effective presentations were as a result of presenters lacking time, either because they talked too much on one slide (cos it was interesting and gained peoples interest) or people interjected (again useful) and this resulted in people either:

  1. rushing throught the remainder of the presentation (missing some key bits)

  2. visibly skipping through what looked like more interesting slides than those that had been shown and discussed earlier, and again, missing important stuff.

.... remembering that presentations can be a bit like teaching a lesson....they have to fit any given time, points could be discussed at any moment and you have to sustain the interest from the participants partly based on their own questions and thoughts.

Pete and I decided to do things a little differently....

think different

I'd been playing around with the concept of presenting a talk using Apple's OS called the Finder and this, it seemed, was the perfect opportunity explore the possibilities. Essentially, the Finder would allow you to present in a fairly non-linear can still have slides in some order, but you aren't constrained by that order. The Finder allows you to jump from one slide to another in any order (drag your folders into the navigation bar on the left hand side of Finder windows.) However, rather more significant is the inclusion of supporting media into your presentation.

the finder

The Finder allows you to select images as the background for any folder (View menu --> Show View Options). Therefore, one folder essentially becomes one slide....but, and this is the smart can add your supporting files within it. is a diagram of Distributed School....let me show you a movie in QuickTime, some photos in Preview.... a PDF file.... etc etc.

  • Background images can be made in any application you like, I used AppleWorks.... ideally you want to save the image file in a way that allows you to modify it quickly and easily later. Then, just attach it to a given folder.
  • Media can be dragged and placed within the Finder window, locating relevant resources next to items in the background image. This looks very cool.
  • New Folders can be created as bullet points. You can change their icons to any image you like, make icon sizes BIG (cos they look really sexy) increase the font size of the icon labels (so they are readable)

I created, but didn't use a slide (exactly! - but i could have) which invited people to contribute challenges. easy would that be?
A. Easy. You just create folders and change their names to become their suggestion. Yes, you are limited by the length of a Folder name, but you can move the folders around the Finder window..... so, for example, you could position items in 'agreement' on one side, and 'disagreement' on another.

Another rather neat idea is that you could have sub-issues within issues (folders within folders)

Pete and I are exploring freeware, shareware apps which might add extra functionality to the Finder, there are loads out there. The Finder is very scriptable....AppleScript, Folder Action Scripts..... worth exploring these too.

Together with Expos?? you can navigate between slides and applications pretty smartly.


  • Finder presentations aren't that portable (Mac to Mac is ok)
  • Icons can move around the Finder window, e.g. sort by name, date etc. This isn't helpful.
  • folder names are limited in length so people's contributes are potentially limited...but you probably only want bullet points anyway?


PowerPoint is pants, Apple's Keynote looks beautiful but doesn't go anywhere near being interactive or non-linear. So, what are the options? HyperCard ..... how many people wish for an OS X version? (it's not gonna happen though is it?)

Web pages - used those a few times, but i've always felt it is hard work to put those together and face issues with changing projector/screen resolutions, with modifying content (particularly adding/removing pages - navigation nightmare.) AND.....what's more.....with any of the above, how do you add comments, thoughts, suggestions during the presentation? If there is one feature I'd really's being able to contribute to the presentation right then and there.

Of course, I'm new to presenting at conferences and there is lots to learn.... but there is always lots to tell people and I couldn't imagine not having the flexibilty to make a presentation quickly but effectively, nevermind having the flexibility to present and talk without constraints.


And of course you are busy writing an AppleScript that captures the screen, turns it into an imagemap so that we can see your presentation notes online

Can't wait...

Very interesting use of finder!
OS X alternative to Hypercard, just as easy to use is SuperCard

Text clippings can be created in TextEdit then dragged and dropped into your folder. The "name" of the clipping icon is the first line of text (not sure how much of it), so you can probably make that your bullet point, and then expand on that point in the lines below. When you double-click on the clipping, it opens in its own window in Finder, doesn't launch another application, and there's your amplifying information.

Cheers for that.... I'll take a look. I'm kinda hoping that there is a whole raft of applications out there that can be seemlessly integrated into the Finder.

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