I can't really believe you're asking that question Marci. The reasons for the
popularity of ppt are innumerable:
1. people are stupid. SUV's are popular too, even though they are unsafe fuel
2. people like to think they have "power". Again, the SUV provides an apt
3. people are lazy. PPT is the ultimate in lazy talk preparation. You click a
template and fill in the blanks. Using PPT well is actually a challenge that
requires considerable thought, and some practice with various animation
effects etc. Using ppt badly is dead easy.
4. people don't realize that they are numbing the minds of their audience.
Remember that public speaking ranks above the fear of death, and you'll see
that people really are more concerned with "getting through" an ordeal than
connecting with an audience. Moreover, despite their own experience witnessing
moronic presentations, people continue to think that ppt actually provides
enhancing "visuals" for their presentations (see point #1 above). This is also
proof that experience is a bad teacher.
I could go on, but you get the gist.
I think Russ is right that the issue is a rhetorical one. Moreover, I don't
blame the technology. Powerpoint can be an incredibly effective device
allowing a speaker to enable his/her audience to understand complex material
in visual ways. I recognize in Russ's complaint a full-blown bias against all
things "monologic", but as a realist who works in a field where information
actually needs to pass from one person to another, sometimes a monologue is an
efficient and effective method. I do blame ppt. for its moronic templates,
and for its insistence on giving Times Roman as the default font when even
elementary intelligence would know that a sans serif font would be better, but
these again are complaints that can be resolved by intelligent users. Visual
rhetoric with ppt is possible.
I've ordered the Tufte tract and will enjoy it as I do all his stuff.
Marcy Bauman wrote:
> Well, then, why is it so popular?
> --On Thursday, November 20, 2003 9:37 AM -0400 Russ Hunt <[log in to unmask]>
> > But I think it's interesting that Jamie posted this to us
> > Chatelaines, because it seems to me that at the root of Tufte's
> > objections is a rhetorical one. It's not only about denuding
> > complex ideas of their richness; it's not only about abandoning
> > the connectives and subordinators that make discourse into
> > thinking; it's about your relation to your audience. PPt is
> > unremittingly monologic. The speaker's plan is the speaker's
> > plan, interrupt it at your peril. The _Wired_ piece concludes
> > with this: "PowerPoint is a competent slide manager and
> > projector. But rather than supplementing a presentation, it has
> > become a substitute for it. Such misuse ignores the most
> > important rule of speaking: Respect your audience." It's no
> > mistake that it's called POWER point, eh?
> Surely it can't be because speakers intend to disrespect their audiences,
> denude complex ideas of their richness, and abandon the connections among
> ideas . . .
> This is a serious question. The denunciations of powerpoint that I have
> seen are amazingly vituperative, yet it's darned near ubiquitous. (Can't
> just be that it's a M$ product; you don't find the same thing with Access,
> say.) Obviously the program meets a need. What is it?
> Marcy Bauman
> Media Consultant
> College of Pharmacy
> University of Michigan
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Dr. Robert Irish, Director
Language Across the Curriculum
Applied Science and Engineering
University of Toronto SF B670
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