I have to admit: I’ve been overcome by a sudden crush, one that defies common sense and all reason. But there it is: I’m wowed by Prezi.

Prezi’s a looker—like any presentation software should be. It grabs a viewer like a suitor singing “I Can Show You the World” in Aladdin.

Here’s an example of what it can do.

OK, that was pretty sales-y. So how about something with illustrations?

 

This new tool would make anyone drop PowerPoint, and makes PP feel like the “safe” date your parents may like.

I first saw Prezi last week at the SPJ convention, when CNN’s Victor Hernandez gave his presentation on All Platform Journalism. It was a great seminar, revealing some of the cutting-edge work that their correspondents are doing. But that wow-inducing opener will likely stay with me longer than the urge to apply for a CNN gig.

Why do I say that my Prezi crush is without reason? Merely because I rarely create e-presentations. And when I have, I’ve found the industry standard to be pretty lackluster. But so strong is my Prezi attraction that I may seek out some more speaking gigs. Why should Victor get to wow everyone?

I’ll let you know how my new love and I progress.

While I’m treating you to some video tours de force from the Las Vegas convention, let me mention two others that brought a response from attendees, either applause, smiles or gasps.

The first is one you’ve probably seen. A Google representative shared a TV commercial that told a love story in 53 seconds, from a brief trip to Paris to a lifelong affair of the heart.

 

Yes, it was charming, and it did make many people (even mildly boiled reporters) grin like schoolkids. But the reason I share it here is because of its story-telling quality. Most of us struggle to create a full-blown world in 20 column inches. But 53 seconds, and no images? Bravo.

The last video turns us from marketing back toward the best kind of journalism.

Rob Curley of the Las Vegas Sun presented on what we sometimes still call “new media,” and he demonstrated that paper’s mastery of multimedia platforms.

But for anyone caught up with the technology, he reminded us all that it is the story and the writing that matter. As an example, he showed us a series on gambling addiction the paper did that really can’t be beat (and in fact has won an award). One of the many stories they told was captured in a video, made by a man whose life was crumbling, and then edited into a short film by the paper. (The series opening page is here. Tony McDew’s story of his own addiction is here and here.)

It’s the best marriage of tool and story I’ve seen in a long time. After you watch it, traipse around the Sun’s website for a bit—I guarantee you’ll stay longer than you planned.

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I promised to report back with some of the tips and lessons I picked up at last week’s annual convention of the Society of Professional Journalists (which I wrote about previously here, here and here).

Later this week, I’ll provide a few videos (or at least links to them) that made an impression in Vegas. And maybe I’ll report on what the Las Vegas Sun is, and why you should pay attention to what they do and how they do it.

Once I wrote the list, I decided it was too long to foist on readers in one post. So I’ll give you my remaining observations another day.

So in no particular order, here we go with my highlights and observations:

  • In a workshop dedicated to social media, I should not have been surprised that there was no handout containing all the links mentioned and discussed. We were told they would be available online on the SPJ site afterward. Understood and agreed. But am I the only disorganized busy correspondent who finds it hard to remember to go excavating online when he returns to the office? Gimme a list.
  • Freelancers may have their own difficulties, but they do not have to beseech anyone above to try a new tool or to download a new free application. Lucky.
  • “Citizen journalist” is a term that irks many trained journalists. If you don’t know why, consider submitting your car to the meanderings of a “citizen mechanic,” or your body to the probing of a “citizen doctor.” Ouch. (Of course, I live in Phoenix, where rickety home construction makes me believe we have quite a few “citizen architects” scrawling about.)
  • The iPad was a great laptop replacement for conference lugging. But the delicate nature of the AT&T 3G network was maddening. It makes the device untrustworthy to carry to a story that I absolutely have to get.
  • Best overall tool for a journalist? King (or Queen) Google.
  • Was the presenter joking? Is Bing an acronym for Bing Is Not Google? (Don’t know. Must Google that when I get back to the office.)
  • My sympathy goes to conference organizers who promised conference-wide wifi, only to see it collapse numerous times. Take a breath. Pour a drink. Repeat.
  • Cool aggregator of mondo seach engines: Addictomatic
  • The next big story source: Census data, which will include a million stories waiting to be extracted.
  • News gear may be new and cool, but it’s about the journalism, not the technology.
  • But as long as we’re talking about technology, you’ve got to go to http://newsgear.info/.
  • In a session titled “Re-Imagining News,” Rob Curley of the Las Vegas Sun demonstrated that paper’s remarkable use of new media.
  • He mentioned something he used to say about his paper’s website, which we all might want to try for our own site: Can you imagine anyone saying about your site, “Wow, I can’t believe I was on your site for four hours last night.” Unlikely? Then it probably needs improvement.
  • Rob Curley: Every day give your readers a gift, something they weren’t expecting.
  • Also by Rob Curley: Online comments by readers are like an old bitter lover; they ruin my day, but I still love them.
  • Rob Curley, on the movement away from anonymity on the Internet: “Being who you are on the Internet is the new black.”

I warned you these would be random. See you tomorrow.