On Twitter, I saw Graham Farmelo link to this Physics World blog post about Ed Witten’s Newton lecture, describing it as “Edward Witten’s clearest-ever overview of string theory for laypeople (i.e. most others).” Witten’s a name to conjure with, so I thought “That might be worth a look.”
So I went to the blog post, which has video embeds for the two halves of the talk (~30 min each), each with a single frame frozen as an example. Both representative frames show slides that are nothing but words– one full paragraph each, starting in the very upper left of the screen, and ending at the bottom right. They’re formatted in a way that suggests they might actually be one continuous stream of text scrolling up the screen like the opening credits in Star Wars, only the text color is slightly different.
And, really, it’s hard to think of a worse advertisement for a presentation than that. It’s conceivable that a talk with slides like that might be brilliant, but my experience suggests that’s not the way to bet. If I was arriving late to a colloquium, and saw a slide that looked like those, I would walk right on by.
Which is what I’m going to do, in a virtual sense, right now.