2017-10-16 emacs-reveal

Some time ago, I learned from the Org-mode mailing list about a very interesting extension to the well-known org-reveal package. The emacs-reveal package allows to embed audio files in reveal.js presentations. I find this quite fascinating, especially that I actually did prepare quite a few educational presentations. My ones were done in a much simpler way – I just set up a simple camera against a blackboard (or a whiteboard), pressed the “record” button and started talking and writing on the board. While this may seem strange, it actually does make sense, at least in case of mathematics: using LaTeX (with Beamer, for instance) to show the steps of derivation of some formula, while perfectly possible, is rather nightmarish, both in terms of the amount of work involved and in terms of robustness (try changing anything in an overlay-heavy display equation in Beamer!). In this case, using modern technology involves a huge cost against a relatively minor gain. Besides, I’m inclined to think that watching an actual human being explaining some topic may be more effective (and definitely more pleasant) than watching the presentation slides alone. (Of course, all of this is just my guts, and I can’t back it by any kind of science. Whether (a) backing it up by science is doable and (b) said science, involving a huge amount of variability, as is usual in the case for human sciences, is actually trustworthy, is of course a separate problem.)

Anyhow, for presentations about, say, programming, it seems actually better to use a computer instead of a blackboard. It is notoriously hard (although possible) to get your code indented properly on a blackboard, not to mention font locking a.k.a. syntax highlighting.

I did not (yet) try to use emacs-reveal, but from what I see in an example, provided by its author, using emacs-reveal is fairly easy. You basically write your Org-mode/Org-reveal slides as usual, and add a special property with a link to an ogg file for each heading you want to be associated with an audio track. You can even add audio files for individual “fragments” (like, list items)! The latter is slightly worse than ideal, since you have to put the list of audio files at the top of the list (so that reordering the list involves manually reordering the audio files for items), but this is a small price to pay for a really cool feature.

Now I can’t wait to prepare my first presentation using this tool. Unfortunately, I do not have any immediate use for that, but I’ll be looking for one!

CategoryEnglish, CategoryBlog, CategoryEmacs, CategoryOrgMode