I’ve created hundreds, no, maybe thousands of PowerPoint presentations; and I’ve sat though many more created by others. Nowadays, there are dozens of alternatives to PowerPoint that all claim to offer better and more interesting presentations; however, the social and cognitive damage is irreversible, and PowerPoint is only partly to blame.
You may not be old enough to recall comedian Jackie Vernon and his slide-show routine. There was no slide show, but Jackie did use a real hand clicker to dramatize the transitions between imaginary and painfully boring slides. Brilliant! I hope PowerPoint or one of the new applications includes a “Jackie Vernon click” audio file option for slide transition.
At some point, but I’m not exactly sure when, but it’s related to PowerPoint somehow, presenters and audiences became anxious, couldn’t wait for the presentation to end, and realized deep down that time was money. First, the siesta was eliminated, along with all tangible and intangible cultural artifacts and political ideologies associated with it. Then came the bullet. They tried seven bullets for a while, but that took too much time. So they laid off four bullets, and went with three. This happened with both blah, blah, blah and yada, yada, yada. All went from seven to three, just like that! We don’t have time to discuss how the Holy Trinity had set the socio-theological precedent or why the Seven Stooges one day during the Great Depression suddenly became the Three Stooges. We’ll leave that for a future post.
Rather, let us focus on how PowerPoint has helped shape the way we think, the way we talk, and even the way we look. [A couple of years ago I sketched this doodle on notebook paper during a PowerPoint presentation that I wanted to end quickly … because I was about six feet away from a tray of donuts and an urn of coffee.]