Bitcoin (Amir Taaki)


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A combination of political rant and a strong plug. I wasn't quite ready for that and it was a bit heavy for my liking.

But the speaker had good style and didn't um and er noticably.

Anonymous at 00:38 on 21 Aug 2012

This was what I would consider almost a textbook example of how NOT to give a presentation.

It started off by playing what was quite clearly an illegally downloaded copy of an episode of The Good Wife without any introduction, so the audience was left not knowing really why it was being shown. The speaker just sat there looking at us while it was playing. Clearly the episode was about Bitcoin, but with no introduction I was left unsure as to the point of why it was being shown, and if I didn't already have some knowledge of Bitcoin I would have had no clue as to which parts of the video were speculation, fact or fiction.

The speaker then began a rambling rant about Bitcoin, skipping from point to point without ever really finding a coherent narrative. It was heavy on politics and rhetoric and light on practical application.

It seemed like there had been little preparation done, because inevitably questions were asked surrounding the lack of legitimate uses for Bitcoin at present and the talk then got bogged down in this. It should have been entirely predictable that these questions would arise, and that a concise answer would need to be given before moving on.

In attempting to demonstrate uses of Bitcoin, the speaker brought up a Reddit page through which (apparently primarily) women sell sexually explicit videos and images of themselves in exchange for Bitcoin. The speaker's point appeared to be that Bitcoin was enabling this service to exist because a payment provider such as PayPal would likely shut these womens' accounts down, and therefore that Bitcoin is a tool for free expression.

While that is true, that was an extremely poor example to use at an event such as Oggcamp and the speaker seemed completely unaware of any issue with that. A member of the audience eventually had to ask the speaker to take down the page full of suggestive images of women.

I am not suggesting that porn should be banned or that it is anything to be ashamed of, or that there isn't a legitimate market for it. My point is that it was a bad choice to pick on during a presentation at Oggcamp in a talk that was not billed as having adult content. As it was the speaker was "lucky" that there were only about 15 people in the room. I am sure that with a bit of forethought the speaker could have come up with a better example.

Having said all of that, the speaker did seem genuinely passionate about the subject and I'm sure he is a very nice guy. I could see he had some great things to talk about and I just really wish that he had done so in a less intense way, with a more controlled and structured style.

I left the talk at around the point paragraph 3 of the previous comment (20 Aug 2012 at 23:38) wraps up. I would agree whole heartedly with these statements up until that point, and then the last paragraph.

Ultimately, if you're trying to encourage people to use something which is already seen as being a bit edgy, don't start with pirated video content (and leave your screen showing a directory of other blatently pirated materials). Ensure you go in with a clear thought process about what you're trying to say, why you've got a good or bad feeling about what's going on and what you're talking about will do to fix/improve things and try to focus.

I had seen that the speaker intends to run a conference about this subject later this year, early next year. I can only hope that he gets his subject matter nailed down so it doesn't feel like he's so wildly out of his depth.

It was also a bit confusing when the speaker kept walking in and out of the mic's pickup range, so, as someone who was near to the back of the room, I kept not quite hearing everything and would suddenly get a burst of loud audio, then being muffled again.

All in all, it feels like Amir isn't comfortable giving talks about this. Perhaps get to some smaller events (like at a hackerspace, or a small tech user group) and do some short talks and work up.

Further note: I left after about 20mins but agree with everything I've read so far in other comments that I could have seen of the talk. Also noticed the to-and-fro from the mic and back towards the screen that made it more annoying, though I could just hear ok without the mic.

May I suggest to Amir, that you read a little on how to give a good talk, things like split it into intro,content,summary for the talk, and for each point/section you make; I've heard it said as "tell them what you're going to tell them, then actually tell them, then tell them what you just told them.". It needed structure and a focus, and targetting to the right audience (and to mention expected-audience level in the description, ideally). Oggcamp is a family-friendly event!