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Tectonic Speed of Government – PechaKucha Version

Video link is below!!    This is not my favorite screengrab, but that's what YouTube picked...

In March, I was scheduled to speak at the Code for America Summit about the “Tectonic Speed of Government,” which is my metaphor that Government change happens slowly (after the exertion of a lot of force with no visible result), but when it does happen it can be disruptive.   

Then the Pandemic hit, the conference was canceled, and… we went through a Tectonic Shift (to a remote workplace).


Disclaimer: All of the ideas expressed in this article are my personal statements and opinions, and do not reflect the opinions/statements of the City of Urbana.


In March, like many of my peers I was too busy dealing with the Shift to have time for much else. However, in April and May, I had a little more time and some new perspective so I re-wrote my presentation (cutting it in half, for the Internet) and now planned it as a video.   

One thing that I kept was the PechaKucha format. We have a PechaKucha night here in Urbana-Champaign, like many cities around the world. (The last one was just before the lockdown!) PechaKucha is a presentation format that gives the speaker 20 images for 20 seconds each, for a 6:40 presentation.  I modified the format, so originally my live speech was going to be 50 images for 50 seconds (for the 45-minute version), but for the video I went with 50 x 25, so 20:50.  I’m glad, because some editing always makes things better. There was some “filler” in the 50-slide version. 

Many hours of rehearsal and video-editing later, here it is for your viewing pleasure.  Some annotations appear below the video.

About the recording: I did three takes of the whole speech and this was the second of three. I had a timer and an outline of the speech that I could see, but only an outline – so my phrasing changed every time. This is important in PechaKucha, because sometimes you need to stretch it out (or cut on the fly) when the slides advance automatically. 

1:45 - This was the only take where I pointed to my shirt, and I got the wrong side because I was looking at the camera’s viewscreen, which was reversed! 

2:40 – This is one of three sets of three in the speech. I’m a believer in the rule that three points is the right amount of information – but sometimes I overdo it. Later I talk about the impact of CyberSecurity on three aspects, and then give my three rules on personal CyberSecurity. A screen shot from that part was even selected as the YouTube image! 

6:35 – Ironically, I had extra time while covering the Time slide! Notice how I had to drag it out at the end. 

7:20 – a Simpsons reference ( that’s always been a favorite, although I made it more direct since the original “I’m looking in your direction” would be too subtle. (I dropped it in this post, too: Seriously, though – Java upgrades are a constant hassle. 

18:00 – the “also, also” line is a Monty Python reference to the Holy Grail credits ( and no, not the llamas part. 

Final note: a warning for anyone else trying to do this in PowerPoint. Believe it or not, PowerPoint has a known defect with slide timing! (When in PowerPoint show mode, it will not accurately advance the slides on the timing: The solution I used was to render a video file from PowerPoint, which is accurate.  So that’s how you need to do it. Blecch!

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