next slide, please

We spoke of fake and real online participation. These things also exist in other branches of IT. Thomas X. Hammes writes about PowerPoint presentations:

Rather than the intellectually demanding work of condensing a complex issue to two pages of clear text, the staff instead works to create 20 to 60 slides. Time is wasted on which pictures to put on the slides, how to build complex illustrations and what bullets should be included. I have even heard conversations about what font to use and what colors. Most damaging is the reduction of complex issues to bullet points. Obviously, bullets are not the same as complete sentences, which require developing coherent thoughts. Instead of forcing officers to learn the art of summarizing complex issues into coherent arguments, staff work now places a premium on slide building. Slide-ology has become an art in itself, while thinking is often relegated to producing bullets.

The next version probably will have an option to “Insert Brilliant Idea”; but any competent programmer would make sure it instead inserted an idea mediocre enough not to detract from the charts.

I especially like the quad chart, which was new to me; the military are ahead of the world of business on this one. What’s a quad chart? It’s a PowerPoint slide which consists of four other PowerPoint slides scaled down to fit.


  1. freebornjohn

    In the last 25 years of the previous century I worked in the conference industry and part of my work involved producing the wind-up version of PowerPoint; 35mm speaker support slides. A team of skilled, professional producers, writers, artists, rostrum camera operators and programmers created material that wasn’t the visual sedation that PowerPoint audiences have to suffer today.

    Admittedly the budgets were probably a lot bigger back then but a bunch of good talent costs a bunch of good money. I got out in the mid 90s when I saw what was coming. The crunch day for me was being called in to rescue an important financial presentation in London for a large UK telco where the visuals were prepared by accountants using PowerPoint. I saw the future and I knew it would have a blue gradient templates and be made by bean counters. I bailed out and sharpened up my recently acquired HTML skills.

    Hammes makes some good points but the art of successful speaker support slide design was established years ago. The “staff” he mentions are probably way out of their depth.

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