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When did medical conference sessions become Apple keynotes?

The last time I attended a large annual meeting of a professional society was in 2019, and either things have taken a strange turn in the last 4 years, or hematology and oncology are so different that attending any other society’s opening session feels uncanny.

I say this because I attended one yesterday — see the other post from today — and if my eyes could have rolled all the way back into my skull, they would have. This is what I am used to: speakers standing behind the podium — usually elevated, sometimes not — looking straight ahead, reading off the teleprompter more or less skillfully — since after all they are doctors and PhDs, not professional salespeople — occasionally averting their gaze in an attempt to connect with the crowd, which is of course impossible because of the glaring stage lights, but all is forgiven because, after all, we are there to learn, not to be entertained.

Well, someone must have come in and told the medicine men they were doing it all wrong, because this session looked like an Apple keynote — the boring parts, where Tim Cook talks about how many stores they opened — crossed with a TED Talk from a dubious but super-enthusiastic liberal arts professor. There is no podium to anchor yourself, so you and your hands are all over the place gesticulating wildly — power-posing, perhaps? — while you gaze into the teleprompter positioned at 45° above the horizon to give you that contemplative look.

This style of presentation is cringy even when most tech companies do it: Apple is Apple; the other big ones don’t even try to compete, and it’s not until you come to the mid to lower-tier This is a link to the Procreate Dreams reveal video. It is an excellent product which I will definitely get for my kidds to play with, and the creators seem rightfully proud of what they accomplished, but copying Apple did it a disservice. that the “person emoting in front of a large professionally-made slide” style re-emerges.

I wish that was all there was to it. Alas, there was a keynote speaker for this openning session of a professional medical society, and the keynote speaker was — it was at this point that I realized the universe was making me pay for coming to Hawaii — a YouTuber! Which is fine, only they decided to set their talk to background music and flashy videos, and pepper it with excerpts from their own content, letting a good personal story of their family and education get drowned in dumb glitz.

Therefore, to be possess’d with double pompe,
To guard a Title, that was rich before;
To gilde refined Gold, to paint the Lilly;
To throw a perfume on the Violet,
To smooth the yce, or adde another hew
Vnto the Raine-bow; or with Taper-light
To seeke the beauteous eye of heauen to garnish,
Is wastefull, and ridiculous excesse.
William Shakespeare, King John, 1623

Four centuries later, we are in full-on gild mode.

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