Re: [xmca] Subtleties of Presentation Media

From: David Preiss (
Date: Sat Feb 17 2007 - 23:37:50 PST

And that's the worst thing about ppts, Jay. As you said they have become so
natural to teaching and presenting that if you don't do a ppt everybody will
judge as if you had misprepared the talk or the lesson. And I do prefer talks
and lessons that kept them to a minimum. It is a revolutionary task to get rid
of them.

Jay Lemke escribió:
> I was smiling to read of David's discomfiture with PPT. There was a
> wired article not long ago "Powerpoint is Evil", and Edward Tufte,
> the godfather of informatic presentation, has a beautiful print essay
> shredding its design and use.
> I think about this every time I use, and curse, PPT. If someone else
> used my PPT slides, my main concern would be embarassment. For me,
> they are merely a pretext (literally?) for my commentary, _and they
> change their meaning for the audience because of my commentary_. In
> fact they have almost no meaning on their own ... they are like the
> sound-bites of politicians, vague enough to be interpreted in many
> ways by many readers, and becoming specified with my meanings only
> when elaborated and contextualized by what I say as I present them.
> And I often say very different things re-using the same slides in
> different presentations.
> I have tried to kick the PPT habit ... it's actually much better very
> often to create an HTML file and scroll through it, or even hyperlink
> it with others, but I've discovered that trying to switch between
> macs and pc's that way is very tricky (not that it's all that simple
> with PPT either). Movies work better in PPT, I think, and that's the
> only advantage I know.
> So why do I use it? because it's fast and I'm busy, because people
> expect it, because people are satisfied that if I've done a PPT, then
> I've prepared properly for a talk, and because I usually speak
> extemporaneously anyway with only an outline of key points. The PPT
> is more my notes to myself, with some window dressing (images mainly)
> to keep the audience amused, or distracted from what I'm saying.
> I never use PPT in class. I create a WORD document with my notes and
> narrate that to the class, then post it to a class web tools site.
> Sketchy as it may be, it's far more "textualized" than PPT. Of course
> I teach almost exclusively doctoral students these days. If I were
> teaching undergrads, I might as well poison them as let them use a
> PPT in lieu of classnotes.
> I think the real popularity, and origins, of PPT arise from people
> not really having anything to say, but wanting to look good anyway.
> The more I have to say, the less suitable the PPT format is. I gave
> up early on adding more and more to a slide, when the font got so
> small people couldn't read it any more! But it's not just quantity,
> it's also depth of content that doesn't fit on a PPT. Perhaps a great
> poet, in the 20th draft, could find some way to make a profound point
> in 5 -12 words. I am rarely so lucky.
> What did I do before PPT? I wrote out a whole paper for every talk,
> highlighted key sections so I could use it like an outline, talking
> through it, and read short bits that I had worded more carefully than
> I could reproduce spontaneously. It worked very well, but it was a
> LOT of work. Especially as I never gave the same talk twice. That is
> I wrote a completely new paper for every talk. Now I recycle PPT
> slides the way I once did with overhead transparencies (another
> superior medium), and weave anew with 50% recycled fibers.
> JAY.
>>A few days ago I gave a PowerPoint presentation of my research to our
>>department. After the presentation, a graduate teaching assistant in the
>>department whom I've known for a number of years asked me if he could have
>>a copy of the presentation so that he could follow-up with one of his
>>classes (some of his students also were at the presentation). I immediately
>>agreed, but after some debate with myself, I decided to give him hard copy
>>of the slides instead. The medium of PowerPoint would erode the boundaries
>>between him and me.
>>Here's a snippet from my note to him. I wonder if this phenomenon has been
>>observed/discussed before in the media literature.
>>Comments welcome.
>>David Kirshner
>>Hi xxxx,
>>I've copied out all of my slides (about 50), and left them in your mailbox.
>>I'd intended to send you the PowerPoint presentation itself, but in the end
>>felt uncomfortable about doing that.
>>It's an interesting media phenomenon. If I give you photocopies of the
>>slides and you distribute them for discussion to your students, it's very
>>clear what are the boundaries between my contribution, and yours. The
>>slides are mine, the discussion is yours. However, the PowerPoint medium is
>>inherently incomplete. If you present my slides as a PowerPoint
>>presentation, it no longer is possible to clearly demarcate our boundaries.
>>That's because the in the PowerPoint setting, the slides are inseparable
>>from the commentary. Thus it's not possible to distinguish what part of the
>>commentary is you and what part is me.
>>xmca mailing list
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> Educational Studies
> University of Michigan
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David D. Preiss Ph.D.
Profesor Auxiliar / Assistant Professor
Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile
Escuela de Psicología.
Av. Vicuña Mackenna 4860.
Macul, Santiago de Chile.

Teléfono: (56-2) 354-4605 Fax: (56-2) 354-4844. Web:

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