Missing The (Power) Point

from the it's-a-tool dept

Following on yesterday’s Wired Magazine article by David Byrne talking about PowerPoint as an artistic medium, here’s the counterpoint from PowerPoint hater, Edward Tufte. He declares that PowerPoint is evil, and then fails to show how the technology is evil at all. Instead, he makes generalizations about people using the tool incorrectly. He specifically suggests that PowerPoint makes people stupid. There’s no denying that many people use PowerPoint badly, and rely on it too much, but there are others who use it well. Blaming the tool on bad use is simply a crutch for someone who hasn’t figured out how to use the tool himself. Once again, I’ll repeat a quote from an article we posted a few weeks ago: “Which came first on the evolutionary ladder, stupidity or PowerPoint?”

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “Missing The (Power) Point”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
1 Comment
Ed Halley says:

No Subject Given

Tufte’s message is a mixed bag. I think he and Kai Krause (of Kai’s Power Tools) have a lot in common, and I react to their wisdoms in much the same way.

Tufte loves “information density” and for that, he dislikes PowerPoint and almost anything to do with computer displays. They can’t get 1000dpi and the applications waste the few pixels they have with tons of crufty widgets that don’t mean anything. Some of his works are really attractive, and some make me want to “explore” the information at great length. His books show some amazing design examples which can fill your afternoon.

Unfortunately, they fill your afternoon. Few of Tufte’s favorite pieces pass the “digest at a glance” test. Business slide shows are intended to be the sidebar margin to a spoken presentation, especially for non-expert speakers. Experts have little trouble sticking to an agenda and sharing a vision with words and gestures. Non-expert speakers will never match them, but have never spoken so eloquently as they do now.

Tufte and Kai both like to experiment and stumble onto beautiful toys, and they both encourage that as a development method for other people. Spend a while exploring and you’re sure to find something novel that you didn’t expect. PowerPoint and Excel and Photoshop are designed for production work, where users don’t seek the playful joy of discovery, but the predictable path to their desired document; and barring any bugs and a tiny bit of training, these applications each give a very predictable interface which drives the user interaction directly toward that goal.

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...