Wednesday, October 12, 2005

New Hope for PowerPoint

Maybe Spinuzzi's got it right. I've been agonizing over his "Print Shop Moment" concept --
...the point at which a new technology gives the broad public access to tools once considered the domain of a specific profession, resulting in an explosion of artifacts. Most of these artifacts will be badly produced, but a few will be genuine innovations, and the artifacts will eventually regain regularity as the public acquires a more discriminating eye (and templates).

Are the bad artifacts the result of unskilled folks or bad technology? Probably both, but I think two recent changes to typical PowerPoint presentation styles are beginning to combat so-called Powerpointlessness -- the "Lessig Method" (from Presentation Zen) and the Kawasaki & Takahashi Methods (from Presentation Zen and 37 Signals).

These artistic flights from the typical PowerPoint fare work best for "sexy" high-profile presentations but may or may not be appropriate for the vast majority of situations that require presentations. For example, I wonder how it would impact a classroom -- more interesting, but less followable.

And while I'm banging on about reconceptualizations and critiques of PowerPoint, I might as well mention David Byrne's art (from Wired, Byrne's site, NPR, CNN, etc.) and the oldie-but-goody, Peter Norvig's Gettysburg Powerpoint Presentation.

[Update: Beyond Bullet Points, "a book on understanding PowerPoint presentations as stories" -- as posted on Datacloud]

But here's my all-time favorite use by Boston-based band Bishop Allen.

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