For my entire life, I have been afflicted by a severe problem with motion sickness. I will spare you the ghastly details of my uneasy relationship with vehicular travel, and in particular tales of my youth involving having a nautical family that thought nothing was more fun than to spend the weekend on a sailboat.
Such experiences used to be confined to travel and watching certain movies (I wish movies could be rated for their likely effect on the balance-impaired), but the advent of PowerPoint, laser pointers, and other advances in presentation technology has had the consequence of introducing motion sickness into my academic life. I am commonly nauseated at talks, even when I like the science and/or the scientist.
I just had a rather extreme experience with this: a talk involving a wildly moving laser pointer and lots of animations. At least the talk was lacking one of my most hated nausea-inducing features: unnecessary animations for changing from one slide to another, including the awful rotating-cube animation. Even so, I felt queasy for more than an hour after the talk.
For the really motion-filled talks, I have to close my eyes or I will faint (or worse). I hate to do this because then the speaker might think I am sleeping (like some of my senior colleagues). And sometimes even closing my eyes isn’t enough because the flickering of light and colors on my eyelids is enough to induce queasiness. Covering my eyes isn’t a socially acceptable option. Sometimes I am able to look down and pretend to take notes and avoid the worst of the motion-effects that way.
Some talks are much enhanced by animations, and I don't begrudge the speaker the use of some zippy moving graphics. I use animations and movies in my talks when they serve the purpose of making an important point. It's the bad laser pointer technique and the gratuitous spinning things that I could do without.
If someone asks me what I thought of the talk I just described, an honest answer would be "It made me feel violently ill."
11 years ago