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Does PowerPoint make us stupid?

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  • Does PowerPoint make us stupid?

    I found this old article from 2003, but I think all the points are still valid. I'd like to start a discussion about the issue of templates in design.

    Artist David Byrne, took PowerPoint and used all of its features to create art in very non-traditional ways. He sold a Book/DVD about information design and how simple templates, automatic bullets, and other auto-generated content has made the thought process of design almost non-existant for business people. Here is a quote from the article...

    Visual artists say Microsoft Corp.'s popular "slideware" -- which makes it easy to incorporate animated graphics and other entertainment into presentations -- lulls people into accepting pablum over ideas. Foes say PowerPoint's ubiquity perverts everything from elementary school reports to NASA's scientific theses into sales pitches with bullet points and stock art.

    One of the Internet's inventors, Vint Cerf, gets laughs from audiences by quipping, "Power corrupts and PowerPoint corrupts absolutely."
    I love that last line. When I had my senior class in college, the professor was fixated on the DESIGN of our resumes. She argued that the structure should support the content and that the layout given in Microsoft Word wasn't always the most sensible. I embraced this approach and attempted to design my own resume. In other posts, I've actually told people to not design their own resumes. I say this not because they should surrender to the tendency for templates, but because of most of the people hiring are slaves to a familiar format.

    I thought this guy's book was interesting. I found the Amazon link for it. I think the concept is probably better than the actual book. The idea of using something outside of its original intention is like having "found art". What do you think?
    Broke or just cheap? Read my list of free open source alternatives to Adobe Creative Suite software.

  • #2
    I think that templates and software are just tools. In the hands of the right person, even an etch-a-sketch can do amazing things.

    The mundanes that use Powerpoint for the limited focus of its intent are what it was made for. There are others who push the limits of what it can do.

    I never diss a tool that can be used for a suitable purpose. What I don't like are people who use a tool as a prop and call it a career or those who use a tool incorrectly thinking they are using the latest software to do the 'in' thing. An ongoing example - Transparency effects are still misunderstood by most designers who just can't seem to find the time to read a few pages of pdf white papers posted by Adobe on the subject of a new and very important feature. Even designers who've been around the block a few years can still bone a file for printing by doing something not meant to be done in a software program. That's why CorelDraw has such a bad name.
    Know your tools.
    Last edited by PrintDriver; 04-24-2007, 06:57 PM.

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    • #3
      For resumes, sure people hiring in normal jobs are slaves to regular format, but in creative jobs, the creatives that are hiring may be impressed.
      It is more fun to talk with someone who doesn't use long, difficult words but rather short, easy words like "What about lunch?" Winnie the Pooh

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      • #4
        I would argue that using powerpoint does not make you stupid, but being forced to design in powerpoint makes you stupid with rage.
        yugyug.com

        guykeulemans.com

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        • #5
          I had to deal with doing a lot of powerpoints when I was working for this consulting firm. We got many compliments on our "design" no clip art here and no mundane slides/bullet points just real information.

          I have to thank Cliff Atkinson for that, His book Beyond Bullet Points was definitely an important read for me when it came to learning how to be creative and get information across. The term I most commonly use/have heard for this is Infographics.

          Check out his page...
          http://www.beyondbullets.com/

          We always got tons of great compliments telling us how much a difference our work did for these executives during their presentations. There's another book that I want to add to this thread but I can't remember the title/author. I'll update when I find it.
          Man who farts in church, sits in own pew.

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