The Cognitive Style of PowerPoint

It's about time that somebody should write this book, and there is no better "somebody" for the job than Edward Tufte, author of thoughtful and beautiful books about the presentation of scientific data (see Hal's Picks for August, 1998 and JCE 1999 76(5) 169). This essay-booklet will resonate if you have been insulted by the paucity of content in the typical PowerPoint presentation. The program has the capability to "automatically" turn informative data tables into meaningless low-resolution graphs not resembling what one would consider standard for scientific presentations, and the layout templates in the program "organize" the slides into a few ideas with a few words, accompanied by sappy clipart. We seem to have acquiesced to this dumbing-down of seminar presentations, and students often get the idea that colored borders, lines of text that "fly in" from off-screen, and a unified "look" can make up for a lack of evidence and integrity. You have to see the PowerPoint rendering of the Gettysburg Address!

Pick Attribution: 

Edward R. Tufte

Publication Date: 
Wednesday, January 1, 2003