Friday, February 08, 2008

Book Review: PowerPoint: The Dark Side

The Cognitive Style of PowerPoint: Pitching Out Corrupts Within, Second Edition, by Edward Tufte

Edward Tufte insightfully tells us how PowerPoint corrupts the communication process by forcing its format on content. For me, this is just another example of dumbing down in general. No longer do managers communicate via reasoned analysis through narrative. No, all communication must be as brief as possible and to the point. Unfortunately, sometimes the point needs more than just a multi-bulleted slide. Tufte's argument is highlighted by the PowerPoint parody of the Gettysburg Address. I too experience the constraint of expressing important detail, context and relationships when the expectation is to fit it into a Word table or a Power Point presentation. Now, this is not a call for wordiness. Unnecessarily long and tedious papers will do just as well in stifling communication. The point is to learn to write well and communicate well, without surrendering to the allure of the promises of new technology that may actually provide the opposite. Read Tufte's treatise and get a good idea of what not to do and why.

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