Field of the Invention
Way out in left field.
Background of the Invention
For purposes of gathering together for reasons including but not limited to sharing information, making commercial announcements, receiving training, professional networking, escaping a nagging spouse or children, and racking up frequent flier miles, it is common for engineering professionals to attend conferences or conventions. Such conferences may consist of convention-center catered meals, speeches in which very important people say what everyone already knows, an exhibit hall wherein more women are employed than in the remaining entirety of the technology industry, and various panels and presentations intended to provide information from presenter to audience.
For most such conferences, the tone of the panels and presentations may be expected to be professional and technical, with minimal intrusion by commercial considerations. In the course of assembling such panels and inviting speakers to prepare presentations, it may occur that the technical information being communicated experiences high levels of marketing noise injection. This creates reluctance by engineers to attend such highly noisy presentations, a phenomenon referred to as marketing jitter.
The presence of marketing noise may overwhelm the original technical signal, sometimes to the point of imperceptibility, despite signal-to-noise specifications clearly articulated by a conference organizer. The presence of noise is frequently not evident until the presentation is actually given, removing some opportunities for the signal to be cleaned up before presentation. It may be appreciated, therefore, that there remains a need for means of detecting and reducing marketing noise in conference presentations both in advance of the presentation and at the time of presentation, with an attendant reduction in marketing jitter.
Summary of the Invention
In one aspect of the invention, methods are provided that allow such commercial entities as logos and brands to be detected and excised from a presentation.
In another aspect of the invention, graphics, fonts, and colors may be evaluated to assist in determining whether a presentation is likely of marketing or engineering origin.
In yet another aspect of the invention, animations, slide transitions, and multimedia clips are evaluated and, if appropriate, deleted from a presentation.
In yet other aspects of the invention, superlatives, features, benefits, calls to action, company overviews, and offers for sale are identified and removed.
In yet another aspect of the invention, methods of unit analysis are provided to identify non-engineering influences on a presentation.
In yet other aspects of the invention, methods are provided for allowing evaluation and filtering of presentations either prior to a conference by prospective attendees or at the time of the presentation.
Brief Description of the Drawings
Figure 1 illustrates an exemplary conference schedule.
Figure 2 shows an exemplary process for organizing a conference session.
Figure 3 shows an exemplary process for deciding whether to attend a conference.
Figure 4 illustrates an exemplary process for filtering logos and brands from presentations.
Figure 5 illustrates an exemplary process for evaluating the quality of graphics, fonts, and colors in the presentation.
Figure 6 illustrates an exemplary process for evaluating the use of animations, slide transitions, and multimedia clips.
Figure 7 illustrates an exemplary process for detecting superlatives
Figure 8 illustrates an exemplary process for detecting features, benefits, calls to action, company overviews, and offers for sale.
Figure 9 illustrates an exemplary process for evaluating the use of certain units.
Figure 10 illustrates an exemplary process for allowing a prospective attendee to evaluate a presentation as part of a decision whether to attend.
Figure 11 illustrates an exemplary process for evaluating a presentation at the time of the presentation.
Detailed Description of Exemplary Embodiments of the Invention
Figure 1 illustrates an exemplary convention schedule for one day. The day may typically start with registration (Step 010), followed by a plenary session (Step 011) which may be titled something like, “Why You Should Spend Your Conference Time In The Sessions Instead Of The Bar.” This may be followed by Panels and Technical Tracks (Step 012), which may have sessions with titles like “Power Grabs: How Does That Grab You?” These may be followed by a lunch featuring a well-known speaker (Step 013) who may opine on such topics as, “Sycophantic Drooling: Watching You Soak Up Even My Most Insignificant Words.” This may be followed by exhibits in a separately-designated exhibits hall, in which engineers wander in search of the most attractive Temporary Technical Representative, which may also be referred to as a model, and pretending to enjoy speaking with the Permanent Technical Representatives of the various exhibiting companies, which may also be referred to as salespeople and/or marketing people (Step 014). This may be followed by a session with free alcohol (Step 015), which may give the engineers the courage to actually talk to one of the Temporary Technical Representatives. Suitably relaxed by alcohol, the session may then close, after which everyone may retire to their respective places of rest by a number of possible means including but not limited to walking, swaying, stumbling, crawling, praying, and driving (Step 016). It should be noted that the steps shown in Figure 1 are examples only, some steps may not occur at all in a given convention, or they may occur in a different order. The Panels and Technical Tracks step may be of primary concern for the invention, but the existence and order of steps is not intended to limit the scope of the invention.
For purposes of organizing and reviewing presentations for Panels and Technical Tracks, it may be beneficial to employ algorithms and heuristics that may reduce the incidence of marketing noise. Executed manually, attempts to reduce marketing noise may prove too time-consuming to be practical. It may be appreciated that algorithms and heuristics that are suitable to automation may provide particular benefit. Such algorithms and heuristics may execute in the process of organizing a panel or technical session, a non-limiting example of which is illustrated in Figure 2.
First the organizer may call friends to determine which items they may be able to present (Step 020). Given this information, they may next select a topic in accordance with the presentable topics (Step 021), and then invite their friends to participate (Step 022). The organizer may often request a copy of the presentations ahead of time for review (Step 023). Finally, the presentations may be presented in a session presided over by the organizer (Step 024) or by some other suitable moderator. Alternatively a session chair, who appoints the session organizer, may appoint a session moderator. Note that the steps shown may vary, and may be more or less capricious than those illustrated. The specifics of the steps are not intended to limit the invention or to impugn the efforts of organizers that may do a solid job of creating sessions. The number of levels of hierarchy regarding overall chair, conference chair, session chair, organizer, moderator, deputy assistant to the moderator, or other bureaucratic entities, is not intended to limit the invention.
Other algorithms and heuristics may be beneficial to prospective attendees in the process of evaluating sessions when deciding if and what to attend, one non-limiting example of which is illustrated in Figure 3. First the prospective attendee may evaluate the location of the conference (Step 030). If the location is attractive (Step 031), then the decision will be made to go (Step 037). Note that in some embodiments, there may be an additional step whereby a management person negates the decision to go if the location is deemed too attractive. The impact of management on this process is not intended to limit the invention. If the location is not deemed attractive, then the agenda of the program may be evaluated and prioritized (Step 032); if there are any high-priority sessions (Step 033), then the prospective attendee may decide to go (Step 037). If not, then the prospective attendee may evaluate whether or not friends are attending (Step 035); if so, the decision may be to go (Step 037); if not, then the prospective attendee may decline to attend (Step 037). Note that the steps shown may vary, and may be more or less indolent than those illustrated. It may be appreciated, for example, that the impact of travel to the location on frequent flier mile balances may impact the decision, especially if a vacation requiring frequent flier miles is pending. Cost may also occasionally act as a determining factor. Additionally, if a location is particularly heinous, then no other considerations may influence a decision to go. The specifics of the steps are not intended to limit the invention or to impugn the efforts of attendees that may attend for legitimate reasons.
Step 023 of Figure 2 and Step 032 of Figure 3 involve evaluations of programs and materials by either a program organizer or prospective attendee, within which algorithms and heuristics may prove beneficial. It may be appreciated that some factors may affect an ability to improve or modify a presentation, while others may act as rejection indicators. Rejection may occur due to an occurrence of a single egregious noise event or the insidious cumulative impact of several less insulting noise components.
In one aspect of the invention, the existence of an identical graphic on every slide of a presentation may indicate the heavy usage of a logo. In addition, the existence of trademark (™) and registered trademark (®) symbols may indicate the existence of brands. Logos and brands are highly correlated with marketing content, and may be removed from the presentation using a process as exemplified in non-limiting Figure 4. First the presentation may be scanned to identify graphics (Step 040). If a specific graphic is found to exist on all pages (Step 041), then it is highly likely that it constitutes a logo, and may be filtered from all slides (Step 042). Next the presentation is scanned and a list compiled of all terms containing either a trademark symbol or a registered trademark symbol (Step 043). Then the presentation is scanned again, and all incidences of the listed terms may be replaced by some dummy text, a non-limiting example being “<brand removed>” (Step 044). Note that typically only the first incidence of a brand may contain a trademark symbol, with subsequent incidences appearing without the symbol. Step 044 may therefore typically remove more brands than were identified in Step 043. At this point the process completes (Step 045). The specific means by which graphics and trademark symbols are identified and by which those identifications are stored for future retrieval will be straightforward for one skilled in the art in light of the description provided here, and are not intended to limit the invention. It may also be appreciated that the steps in this method may be performed in a different order without departing from the scope of the invention.
Some creators of presentations may attempt to evade logo filtering techniques by using a master slide upon which a single graphic may be made to appear on all slides. Therefore another embodiment of the invention may include a step that checks for the existence of a master slide and eliminates all contents of the master slide.
With respect to another aspect of the invention, it may be appreciated that highly professional-looking slides and graphics may generally be employed as a distraction from a general paucity of technical information. It may therefore be beneficial to examine a presentation for excessive polish. However, it may be that some creators of highly technical presentations may employ useful graphics that approach professional caliber. Filtering techniques must therefore discriminate between competent engineering and marketing slides. The existence of such graphics types as GIF, JPEG, or Flash animation correlate highly with marketing content, whereas PowerPoint-originated graphics may be considered acceptable. It may be appreciated that engineers may revel at the opportunity to pretend to be graphic designers, making use of as many colors and fonts as possible. Therefore the lower the color and font correlation amongst the graphics, the more likely the existence of technical content. If font and color are highly consistent throughout the presentation, it is likely that a marketing person either created the presentation, reviewed and edited an engineering presentation, or provided a template for the presentation. Given the difficulty of discrimination of highly consistent presentations, and the risk of eliminating actual technical content, this criterion may be beneficial as an adjunct to others in evaluating the level of marketing noise.
One non-limiting exemplary embodiment of such an evaluation is illustrated in Figure 5. First the presentation may be scanned to enumerate the graphics, fonts, and colors (Step 050). The specific steps to perform such enumeration may vary, are not intended to limit the invention, and will be straightforward for one skilled in the art in light of the description provided here. If PowerPoint graphics are not the main style of graphics used (Step 051), then the presentation may be deemed of marketing origin (Step 055). Otherwise, the font count may be evaluated. If no more than two fonts are used (Step 052), then the presentation may be deemed of marketing origin (Step 055). Otherwise the color count and coordination may be evaluated. If many clashing colors are used (Step 053), then the presentation may be deemed to be of engineering origin (Step 054), otherwise of marketing origin (Step 055). The specifics of the evaluation steps, including such details as the number of fonts allowed for marketing or the specific color combinations and counts allowed for marketing, may vary, and are not intended to limit the invention.
In another aspect of the invention, the use of PowerPoint animations may be an indicator of marketing noise, however accurate discrimination may be further stymied by the fact that in general, neither engineers nor marketers are skilled at PowerPoint animation. Therefore the flagrant and non-selective use of animation may indicate either an engineering or a marketing presentation. In either case, the animation may likely to detract from rather than contribute to the comprehensibility of the presentation, and may be non-selectively removed from the presentation. The restricted, selective, judicious use of animation, on the other hand, may be highly correlated with technical content, and may be used to increase the weight of evidence in favor of technical content. Widespread use of slide transitions may likewise indicate inept engineering or marketing use, and may be eliminated throughout. Occasional discrete usage of slide transitions, on the other hand, may indicate well-considered usage, and may be maintained and used to increase the weight of evidence in favor of technical content. It may be appreciated that the use of sound and other multimedia clips associated with animations or other presentation events almost never contribute anything useful to a presentation and in fact may be a distraction; multimedia clips may be eliminated indiscriminately.
These aspects of the invention may be implemented as shown in the exemplary embodiment of Figure 6. First the presentation is scanned for animations (Step 060); if their use is not limited (Step 061), then they may all be eliminated (Step 062). Next transitions may be scanned (Step 063), and if not found to be of limited use (Step 064), then they may be removed (Step 065). Finally, all multimedia clips are removed (Step 066). Note that the order of steps may vary without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention, and the specific means of scanning presentations and eliminating elements will be straightforward to one skilled in the art in light of the description provided here.
In another aspect of the invention, marketing noise created by superlatives of various sorts may be detected. This may be done by identifying the existence and frequency of keywords including but not limited to “more”, “most”, “best”, and “better”. A suffix detector may also be employed to identify the suffixes “-er” and “-est” on adjectives. An exception list may optionally be used to allow specific words that either are or appear to be comparatives or superlatives. Excessive use of superlatives may cause the presentation to be marked as of marketing origin.
One embodiment illustrating this aspect of the invention is shown in Figure 7. First the presentation is scanned for superlatives (Step 070), and if they are found to be excessive (Step 071), then the presentation may be marked as of marketing origin (Step 072) and the process completes (Step 073). The implementation of the superlatives detector may include an exceptions list, and the specific implementation may vary and is not intended to limit the invention.
In another aspect of the invention, a feature/benefit detector may be implemented to detect overt articulation of marketing value. While engineering presentations may attempt to provide benefit information, such message conveyance is generally not clear, may be typically illustrated through confusing graphics, and focus solely on features with no consideration whatsoever of benefit. Therefore the existence of clear benefit messages is a highly correlated indicator of marketing involvement. The existence of features may or may not indicate marketing involvement. Many marketers may neglect to discuss benefits, but typically will organize features into lists rather than having them randomly distributed throughout the presentation. Therefore the existence of a feature list may be a highly correlated indicator of marketing input.
Other detectors may be put in place for company overviews and offers-for-sale. Slides containing these elements may be selectively deleted. Worse yet, calls to action may rarely be found as spurious high-amplitude sales-originated noise. If sales input is detected, then the entire presentation may be marked for manual inspection.
One non-limiting embodiment of such an algorithm for evaluating a slide in a presentation is illustrated in Figure 8. If the slide contains a call to action (Step 080), then it is deleted and the slide is marked for manual review due to the likely input of sales into the presentation (Step 081). If it contains mentions of benefits (Step 082), then the slide is deleted from the presentation (Step 086). If it contains a list of features (Step 083), then the slide is deleted from the presentation (Step 086). The details of the process of discriminating features from benefits is left as an exercise for the reader, and will be covered on the final. If the presentation contains a company overview (Step 084), then it is deleted (Step 086). If not, then if it contains an offer for sale (Step 085), then it is deleted (Step 086). At this point the process completes (Step 087). It may be appreciated that the steps in this process may vary and occur in a different order without departing from the scope of the invention. In particular, the occurrence of the phrase “value proposition” may by itself cause the presentation to be marked as of marketing origin.
In another aspect of the invention, a subtle indicator may be detected in the use of units. This is a weak discriminator of content as generated by engineering or marketing, since long-term engineering abuse has corrupted both marketing and general technical writing usage, but may be an alert as to input from outside the engineering community. In the English language, units are separated from their numbers by a space, or, if used adjectivally, a hyphen. For example, one might say, “I walked 5 miles”, or “I went on a 5-mile walk.” However, due to the widespread unawareness of this usage in the engineering community, and due to the promotion of engineers into marketing roles, and due to the undue deference given by technical writers both to engineering and marketing in matters grammatical, for certain units, the space or the hyphen may typically be eliminated. This may typically apply to electrical units (for example, 12V instead of 12 V), units of computer information (128kB instead of 128 kB), or units of distance that may be applied to semiconductor manufacturing (for example, 45nm instead of 45 nm). English units such as the “miles” example above may never be treated in this manner. The appearance of these units with the appropriate spaces or hyphens may generally indicate that the engineer has had outside influence from either grammarians, stubborn technical writers, librarians, or some other similar entity that would not be considered engineering. The grammatical correctness may therefore weaken the technical credibility of the presentation, and such a presentation may be marked as suspect.
One non-limiting embodiment of this aspect of the invention is illustrated in Figure 9. First the presentation is scanned for key units (Step 090). A specific list of units to be detected may be used to allow flexibility in targeting units. When found, if the units are suitably preceded by spaces or hyphens (Step 091), then the presentation is marked as suspect (Step 092), and the process completes (Step 093).
Embodiments of these algorithms and heuristics may be created for use by a session organizer in the event that presentations are submitted before the conference. Alternative embodiments may allow a session organizer to place presentations in some publicly accessible location, including but not limited to the internet, for use by prospective attendees in selecting sessions. One non-limiting exemplary embodiment of a process allowing this is illustrated in Figure 10. First the organizer places the presentation on the internet (Step 100). Note that the presentation may be placed on any other suitable publicly accessible medium; additionally, there may be more than one presentation submitted for evaluation. Next a prospective user accesses the presentation by means of an embodiment of the invention in order to evaluate the level of marketing noise present in the presentation (Step 101). Note that such an embodiment may optionally provide evaluation only, without altering the presentation through deletions. If the results of the evaluation are acceptable (Step 102), then the prospective attendee may elect to attend (Step 104); if not, then the prospective attendee may elect not to attend (Step 103).
In the event that no advance copies of the presentation are made available to the session organizer, or against the eventuality of an actual presentation differing in some material way from an earlier version submitted for vetting, another embodiment of these algorithms and heuristics may be implemented in the system used to display the presentations. A non-limiting exemplary embodiment of such a system is illustrated in Figure 11. First the presentation is loaded by the system (Step 110). The means by which the presentation is loaded is not intended to limit the invention. The presentation is then subjected to an embodiment of the invention, which may optionally evaluate and filter the presentation (Step 111). If the evaluation results are acceptable (Step 112), then the presentation proceeds with the filtered presentation (Step 114). If not, then the presentation is deleted from the system, and that presentation is cancelled from the session (Step 113).
The foregoing description has made reference to specific applications, implementations, and variations on those implementations. It may be appreciated that the benefits of the invention may be attained using implementations and variations other than those specifically shown, and in applications beyond those specifically mentioned, and that the use of the specific examples should not be interpreted to limit the application and scope of the invention.
1. A method for excising marketing noise from a presentation comprising
scanning presentation graphics, and
if a graphic exists on all slides, eliminating that graphic.
2. A method as in Claim 1, further comprising
determining whether a slide template has been used, and
if a slide template has been used, deleting the contents of the template.
3. A method as in Claim 1, further comprising
identifying brands, and
replacing all incidences of brands with another piece of text.
4. A method as in Claim 1, further comprising
determining the percentage of PowerPoint graphics as compared to all other graphics types, and
if the percentage of PowerPoint graphics falls below a threshold, marking the presentation as likely of marketing origin.
5. A method as in Claim 4, further comprising
counting the number of fonts used, and
if the number of fonts falls below a threshold, marking the presentation as likely of marketing origin.
6. A method as in Claim 4, further comprising
counting the number of colors,
evaluating the coordination of colors, and
if the number of colors falls below a threshold, or if the coordination of colors falls below a threshold, marking the presentation as likely of marketing origin.
7. A method as in Claim 1, further comprising
scanning the presentation for the use of superlatives, and
if the number of superlatives exceeds a threshold, marking the presentation as likely of marketing origin.
8. A method as in Claim 1, further comprising
evaluating each slide in a presentation, and
if a slide contains a call to action, deleting that slide and marking the presentation for further manual evaluation.
9. A method as in Claim 8, further comprising
if a slide contains mentions of benefits, deleting that slide,
if a slide contains a list of features, deleting that slide,
if a slide contains a company overview, deleting that slide, and
if a slide contains an offer for sale, deleting that slide.
10. A method as in Claim 1, further comprising
scanning for the use of units, and
if numbers and units are separated by spaces and/or hyphens, marking the presentation as suspect.
11. A method of evaluating presentations comprising
a first person making a presentation available on a public medium,
allowing a second person to evaluate the marketing noise in the presentation, and
the second person making a decision based on the results of the evaluation.
12. A method as in Claim 11 where the decision is to attend a conference.
13. A method as in Claim 11 where the decision is not to attend a conference.
14. A method of evaluating presentations comprising
loading a first presentation for display,
filtering the first presentation to create a second presentation,
evaluating the first presentation, and
making a decision based on the results of the evaluation.
15. A method as in Claim 14 where the decision is to display the second presentation.
16. A method as in Claim 14 where the decision is to delete and cancel the second presentation.
17. A software program that does all of the things above. Yes, I’m too lazy to type it all out again, because you know exactly what I’m trying to say and no matter what I type here you’ll try to distort it, so the less I type the less there is to distort. And yes, this is a software claim. Deal with it or sue me, beyotches.
Methods are provided for evaluating the level of marketing noise in a conference presentation, and, where possible, optionally filtering the noise; where not possible, marking the presentation as suspect, for further evaluation. Methods are provided for allowing prospective attendees to use embodiments of aspects of the invention as part of the process of deciding whether to attend a conference, as well as for evaluating and filtering a presentation at the time of presentation in an attempt to thwart the sneaky reintroduction of marketing noise even if an earlier version of a presentation has been vetted, filtered, and approved.