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  Tuesday, May 20, 2008 – Permalink –


A contrary opinion

Is there anyone who has not seen a PowerPoint presentation?
In class, in business, at seminars, at any gathering of two or more people the blue screen of PowerPoint will appear.

Edward Tufte has written a number of books, including:

Beautiful Evidence,
Visual Explanations,
Envisioning Information,
The Visual Display of Quantitative Information,
Data Analysis for Politics and Policy.

He is Professor Emeritus at Yale University, where he taught courses in statistical evidence, information design, and interface design.

If you are ever within 300 miles of a city presenting Tufte's one day course: "Presenting Data and Information", GO!

Tufte has written that:

PowerPoint Is Evil
Power Corrupts.
PowerPoint Corrupts Absolutely

"Particularly disturbing is the adoption of the PowerPoint cognitive style in our schools. Rather than learning to write a report using sentences, children are being taught how to formulate client pitches and infomercials.

Elementary school PowerPoint exercises (as seen in teacher guides and in student work posted on the Internet) typically consist of 10 to 20 words and a piece of clip art on each slide in a presentation of three to six slides -a total of perhaps 80 words (15 seconds of silent reading) for a week of work.

Students would be better off if the schools simply closed down on those days and everyone went to the Exploratorium or wrote an illustrated essay explaining something. "

Yea, but....

Hi Doug -

I agree, Tufte is a smart man, and people should go see his talk. I saw him last year in Boston, and the price of admission included three of his books.

He risks throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Sure, using many of the defaults in PowerPoint (or Excel or Word) will produce a less effective document. It is up to the user to adjust his/her use of such tools to avoid the narrow-mindedness that indiscriminate use of the tools can impart.

PowerPoint's a decent tool, one I use frequently in conjunction with Excel and Word in the solutions I create. I didn't know you'd written a PowerPoint book. It looks like it's geared toward UI use of Ppt. Do you know of any sources dealing with programming of PowerPoint?

- Jon
Jon Peltier, Microsoft Excel MVP
Peltier Technical Services

I've seen Tufte twice.
I think he serves a purpose by exposing a viewpoint far to one side, so that others can say "I wouldn't go that far, but ..."
There's not much on PP VBA.

There are some references on
and Shyam Pillai's site.

[Edited entry from 1/29/2005]

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<Doug Klippert@ 6:22 AM

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