Eventually, a colleague in the visual arts was working with me to set up the web site for the Watershed Access Laboratory and decided that I needed -- and was worth of -- professional help. She called one of my PowerPoint presentations "cute" -- but not in a good way. Then she took me to a day-long workshop led by Yale statistician and visual-communication genius Edward Tufte. Throughout the day, people kept asking Tufte about PowerPoint, and he swatted away their questions like so many annoying insects. A couple years later, however, he put his annoyance into a more constructive form -- an essay that has become my Bible and required reading for many of my students. (If I could require it of professors, I would!)
|iStockphoto.com, via Boston Globe|
I was inspired to revisit the subject this week by another article, this time in the Boston Globe, sent to me by a former student who read Tufte's critique in my coffee class -- and who had endured my performance of the Gettysburg Address with Peter Norvig's PPT slides. The Globe photo essay Stop the PowerPoint Pollution is the culmination of questions on the subject posed to readers of its business pages. It builds on an earlier essay by Paul Hellman, PowerPoint Mistakes that Drive People Crazy, both of which highlight the importance of having something meaningful to say before firing up the software!