Wednesday, December 17, 2003
Reading the piece though it seems clear that most of the criticisms Thompson levels towards Power Point aren't really about that software per se (for one thing any other presentation software would certainly suffer from the same limitations) but rather about how bad oral presentations are at conveying information in general and nuanced/subtle information in particular. It is a fact, as noted by the Microsoft rep that Thompson quotes but doesn't seem to really believe, that Power Point allows you to create slides of arbitrary complexity. People tend not to for the simple reason that it is difficult to absorb information through hearing a spoken presentation (this is why educational theorists tend to rally against the use of the lecture in higher education). So if you want your listeners to get anything out of your presentation, you have to keep it simple.
As much as it pains me to say it, the sort of cognitive problems that Thompson is alluding to don't seem to have much to do with Power Point. But they do seem to have a lot to do with people choosing to give lectures rather than, e.g., write books.