Sunday, January 26, 2003

Is PowerPoint The Devil?

In its own cryptic way, this weekend's edition of Arts and Letters Daily ponders, and I quote verbatum:

If reality naturally divided itself up into neat little bullet points, PowerPoint would be the way to present it. But reality... more» ... more». Edward Tufte on PowerPoint. If Lincoln had PowerPoint at Gettysburg...

But despite what Julia Keller claims through cheap false dichotomies and straw man arguments, her interview subjects, who include best-of-the-media-bunch Cybersociologist Sherry Turkle and Media Ecologist Neil Postman, remind us that PowerPoint isn't the problem. Reality no more presents itself in neat little bullets as it does neat little paragraphs. In all media and in all cases, best practice comes from applied recognition that we are working with a representation of reality, and that each medium allows for and best supports that representation in a manner specific to its own rhetorical rules. Thus, writing or speech is no more or less a "better" way to express reality than PowerPoint or interpretive dance. Deciding which is best, and when, and why, and for what kind of information, is the goal -- that is true literacy.

As always, the problem is us, and thus we should look to ourselves for the solution. It's people who don't get it, and use not just PowerPoint but most shiny new tools for too many things outside those tools' best literacy potential; them, and the lack of media literacy programs that help them see that -- that’s the real devil here.

posted by boyhowdy | 12:01 AM |

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