Extended Presentation System (EXPRESS)
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Persuasion is the process of guiding people toward the adoption of an idea, attitude, or action by rational and symbolic (though not always logical) means. Persuasion is as old as humanity itself, and records exist to show that the available technology of the day has been used to assist with persuasion for many thousands of years, and has evolved over the centuries to become more effective. Generally, persuasion technology is used to augment a human face-to-face or voice interaction. One of the most commonly forms of persuasion technology used today is PowerPoint slides. Despite somewhat widespread criticism of the use of PowerPoint in presentations, supporters and critics generally agree that the ease of use of presentation software can save a lot of time for people who otherwise would have used other types of visual aid --hand-drawn or mechanically typeset slides, blackboards, whiteboards or overhead projections. Ease of use also encourages those who otherwise would not have used visual aids, or would not have given a presentation at all, to make presentations. Although PowerPoint's style, animation, and multimedia abilities have become more sophisticated, and the application has generally made it easier to produce presentations, there are still many parts of the presentation composition and execution processes that lacks ease of use. This is especially evident when the presenter wants to include multimedia data of various file formats. As the persuasion technology have evolved over the centuries, it has also become more complex. Complex technologies are more fault prone than simpler technologies. When the persuasion technology fails during a presentation, it becomes a big drawback instead of an aid. This is because the failure will draw much more attention than the message the presenter is trying to convey. Additionally, it may cause a big delay and possibly project the presenter as unprofessional. The fear of such events may be the reason that some professional presenters completely avoid presentation software and are still using the old overhead projector. If that is the case, then the evolution of modern persuasion technology needs to take a step back and correct itself. New features that makes the persuasion technology more effective are welcomed by the users, but not at the cost of ease of use. This project has focused on creating a solution that covers the common problems often experienced by presenters when using presentation software on computers connected to presentation equipment, such as projectors. The project proposes a software system called Extended Presentation System (EXPRESS), which is a distributed system for planning, management and execution of seminars and presentations with digital presentation content. Its design is based on an analysis of the current persuasion technology and its problem areas, consisting of software, hardware and organizational problems. This was done by interviewing experienced presenters and seminar administrators, writing down own experiences and researching problems with common presenter software and presentation equipment. Based on this research, an architecture was developed and a prototype implemented. The prototype was tested and further developed in two real-scenario test iterations. The first field test of the prototype was on the 28th of April, 2008, at the information meeting for the fifth year MSc students of the Communication Technology MSc programme at the department of Telematics, NTNU. The second was at the Fifth European PKI Workshop, which had participants from all over the world. It took place on the 16th and 17th of June, 2008, at NTNU. A survey on the user experience of the EXPRESS system was made and distributed to the participants of the PKI Workshop. Qualitative interviews were performed with both the information meeting presenters and the PKI workshop administrator. The results were collected, analyzed, presented in this thesis and used in considerations for further work and development. The authors participated in the business plan competition Venture Cup with the EXPRESS system. An excerpt of this business plan is presented in chapter 9. This master thesis, along with the market considerations, in the business plan will form a basis for a commercialization of the EXPRESS system in cooperation with NTNU Technology Transfer. The new company is planned founded in August 2008 and will have office at the Innovation Center Gløshaugen. This project has shown that the current presentation technology have a big potential for improvement, especially in making the technology more user friendly. The project has shown that the problems arise when many different technologies have to work together in the same environment. It has shown that file conversion and adaption to current industry standards is a potential solution for these problems. The project also shows that there are willingness to change the current common routine of presenting from ones own laptop to a system specialized for this task, such as EXPRESS. Keywords: Presentation System, Flash Technology, Distributed System, Web Services, File Conversion.