schussman.com logo

Problems of Powerpoint

While -procrastinating- working on some paper revisions, I sought refuge over at "textism":http://www.textism.com, and found Dean's "excerpt and discussion":http://www.textism.com/article/214/ of Ian Parker's New Yorker essay "Absolute Powerpoint":http://polyglot.lss.wisc.edu/lss/intime/AbsolutePPT.pdf [pdf], subtitled "Can a software package edit our thoughts?" Having sat through my share of PowerPoint "presentations," I have occasionally seen multicolored bullet-pointed slides endow social capital to already-capable speakers. But more frequently, as I squint at the page full of screencap boxes -- called the leave-behind" -- handed out to the audience, I cannot help but grimace.

Parker's essay is a great history and commentary on software that has become ubiquitous in business and academia -- and, increasingly, everywhere else, too. Microsoft estimates that thirty million PowerPoint presentations are made _every day_. The math is not encouraging: That's one PowerPoint presentation per 200 people on earth, every day. It's like a clone army of animated dissolves, left-wipes and star-fades, and this army wants its key ideas in bulleted lists, _seven words per line!_