Powerpointlessness

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From Inc.com via elearnspace, an article - not a moment too soon - called More Power than Point, about the problem with PowerPoint, or rather how PowerPoint has, according to some, become the problem with American business. Russell Wild coins the very lovely phrase "bullet point coma" in another article in Financial Planning. But best of all is Edward Tufte's analysis of the cognitive style of PowerPoint [this is just a bullet-point resumé of the article by Aaron Swartz), and in particular his complete analysis of a single PowerPoint slide from Boeing about the possibility of tile damage on the Columbia Space Shuttle. Also not to be missed is Peter Norvig's PowerPoint version of the Gettysburg Address.

I'm relieved to find that I'm not the only one who finds PowerPoint crass, pointless and even sinister, insofar as its main function is to establish and promote hierarchies even where none existed before. In my experience, people in offices only make organization charts and speak in bullet points and jokey clip-art because that's what Powerpoint can do. When I first saw it, I couldn't see the point of it, or who would want it.

Then, gradually, I met them, Powerpoint-crazed managers who believed that, to paraphrase Elizabeth in Pride and Prejudice, Powerpoint would turn their idle jottings and Ricky Gervais-style aphorisms into "...something that will amaze the whole room, and be handed down to posterity with all the eclat of a proverb"; or in Powerpointese:

Idle Jottings < Power!

  • Amaze whole room
  • Words handed down: posterity
  • "Eclat"
  • = Proverb

    (Slide 1 of 42 )

    24/09/03: Another article about this subject Absolute PowerPoint by Ian Parker, from the New York Times, May 28 2001.

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    This page contains a single entry by Jonathan published on August 25, 2003 9:30 PM.

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