FOSCON: Some people have all the fun

From comp.lang.ruby on why the lucky stiff's presentation:

"He had people fire up irb and then displayed some code they would need to log into his drb server running on his laptop. As each person logged in the colors on the projected screen changed and it would divide into different regions so you could tell how many people were logged in. Audience members could change colors on Why's display by changine their code in irb. It was very cool... though some wise guy changed part of the screen to white-on-white which made it impossible to read the code on that section (but Why got some jokes out of this too). Why's talk was extremely funny so it can be easy to overlook the fact that this was a very innovative idea for creating an interactive presentation. Most presentations are all one-sided: A speaker delivers some information to an audience - there may be a Q&A session afterwards, but other than that it's not interactive at all. What Why did last night, I've not seen before: He invited the audience to directly participate and even effect his presentation. This aspect deserves a lot more examination.

One can imagine variations on this theme: For example you could run a webrick server on your laptop and allow audience members to interact with (and potentially effect) your presentation through their browsers. Lots of potential uses: audience voting in real time, for example. Code contests with the audience. It's great for tutorials (This is how Why used it): you get people to actually try out the code you're talking about with some kind of feedback to the speaker. Nobody gets bored.

I think that Ruby historians and sociologists will look at this event as a seminal development in the direction of interactive teaching. Oh, and two shadow puppet birds debated teaching methodologies just prior to this part of the show - that was no accident."

More photos are available on flickr. I really wish that I was there. It would be interesting to see how to teach ruby with puppets and such. Right now I hope that why releases his irb thingy for public perusal. Why is definitely one creative fellow. He is right up there on the list of people I look up to; right along with David Heinemeier Hansson.

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