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Wednesday, November 29, 2006
Apparently there's been quite a response to Eric Rauchway's Nov. 20 post on Open University about hatred of Microsoft's PowerPoint presentation software. As I noted in an earlier post on the topic, Rauchway joined an already well-stoked debate I hadn't been aware of.
Rachway's new follow-up post points to a long article that is both a primer on proper, or anyway better, PowerPoint use and a warning to stay away from it in most non-sales contexts. The author of the article (no genius writer) points out that the problem with PowerPoint is that it's being used in ways it wasn't meant for, and therefore the medium is altering the message. He draws a parallel with word processing:
Word-processing has not fundamentally changed the art of writing. Paragraphs may be drafted and re-drafted to infinity. Spelling can be corrected over and over. But the basic requirements of writing, correct use of grammar, use of appropriate language and above all having something to communicate remains.
Similarly with PowerPoint, he says, presentation software is about making business presentations; it's not a shortcut to making arguments or writing prose (which is harder work). He does quote, however, a voice that diagnoses the problem differently:
"Which came first on the evolutionary ladder, stupidity or PowerPoint? For all the demonizing, PowerPoint is just a tool." -- Adam Hanft