Angry powerpoints to Gettysburg

In the process of installing and setting everything up on my new computer, I see that today’s top post on the WordPress blogs is "Death by Powerpoint" on a blog called "Angry 365 days of the year" (whose author, inevitably, is called Mr Angry). I am not sure why everyone has it in for PP, and still am not after reading Mr Angry’s post and many similar. Be that as it may, here is an extract:

"You get over 7 million hits on Google for Death by PowerPoint but my favourite online resource for showing the horrible potential of PowerPoint to destroy a presentation was done by Peter Norvig.  He has constructed a PowerPoint version of one of the most famous speeches in modern history, Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address.  This devilspawn software effortlessly reduces one of the most powerful pieces of oratory ever into meaningless drivel with dot points and charts.  Much like every business presentation I’ve ever seen.  Apart from the fact the presentations in question were probably never going to be great oratory in the first place."

The PP Gettysburg sounds intriguing. Maybe I’ll go and look at it one of these days, but I’m still entranced at setting up my pristine, few-hours’-old computer. If you do go there, please drop a line in the comments to say whether it is worth a visit.

Here is a direct link to the Gettysburg PowerPoint Presentation, in case the pasted-in link above does not work.

10 thoughts on “Angry powerpoints to Gettysburg

  1. Here’s a link to an excerpt from Edward Tufte’s essay The Cognitive Style of PowerPoint: Pitching Out Corrupts Within (“. . . the popular PowerPoint templates (ready-made designs) usually weaken verbal and spatial reasoning, and almost always corrupt statistical analysis.” http://www.edwardtufte.com/tufte/books_pp ) that provides some of his reasons for disliking PowerPoint:
    “PowerPoint Does Rocket Science–and Better Techniques for Technical Reports”
    http://www.edwardtufte.com/bboard/q-and-a-fetch-msg?msg_id=0001yB&topic_id=1
    This page also includes responses to the excerpt and Mr Tufte’s replies.

  2. Ah, the famous (in our house) Edward Tufte of “Visual Display of Quantitative Information”.
    I guess I would say to Mr Angry that the Gettysburg address is not a business presentation. Horses for courses. But who am I to judge?

  3. I think the hatred against PP is highly overdone. Yes, an excellent speech is better than a lousy PowerPoint Presentation. What a shock. But not everyone is good at giving presentations and PP can help a speaker keep on track and help them make all the points they need to make. And since most people are fairly poor at public speaking, this is a good thing. But if you are good enough to give the Gettysburgh Address, you can probably skip PowerPoint.

  4. I did try to make it clear that it was misuse of PP that was the problem although I was also having a bit of fun attacking the software. Some of the comments I receive are very eloquent in the way they describe their experiences but the general consensus seems to be that it’s poor use of PP that’s the problem more than PP itself.

  5. Hello Mr Angry, thank you so much for popping over. I am honoured that WordPress’s most popular blogger-for-a-day has paid a visit.
    I’ve seen some good and some bad PPts, I agree. But I hold to my views about Susan 😉

  6. My husband once had a boss who was universally loathed and since he couldn’t be bothered to assemble his own powerpoint presentation he told some underlings to do it for him. Revenge was sweet, as they say. They incorporated every visual and audio effect they could find and about 5 seconds into the presentation the place was in uproar. He always did his own presentations after that. I think powerpoint is wonderful.

  7. Good one, Clare, I will have to remember that trick. But of couse I would never dream of playing it on my own lovely boss, of course — who is in any event far more adept at PPT than I.

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