Dispatches | August 03, 2009

There’s been some buzz in recently among tech circles about a new presentation system called Prezi. The idea behind Prezi is to construct presentations not around a series of slides, but rather in the form of a single huge map (reminiscent of a brainstorming “mind-map”) that navigate around, zooming in to individual images or items of text. It sounds unremarkable, but the effect is quite striking when you look at a sample, such as this design portfolio. This “deep zooming” navigation approach is not entirely new — others have been working on similar projects (such as Microsoft’s SeaDragon) and I suspect we’ll be seeing more implementations of this kind of information design over the next couple of years.

But in the meantime, Prezi struck me as a great tool for poets to experiment with in constructing a different kind of “hypertext” poetry. Prezi has the virtue of preserving a fixed textual structure (unlike dynamically generated or “interactive” online poems), while creating opportunities for very different kinds of essentially typographical effects — though the “deep zooming” enables the ability to experiment with scale in ways that would be impossible in print publishing.

You can sign up for a free Prezi account that gives you access to most of its vital features. If any of our readers develop any (perhaps even the first — I haven’t found any yet!) Prezi poems, please link to them in the comments thread for this post: we’d love to see what you come up with.