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The Cognitive Style of PowerPoint: Pitching Out Corrupts Within, Second…

by Edward R. Tufte

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734922,658 (3.9)None
Using specific examples, Tufte explains how PowerPoint's templates "usually weaken verbal and spatial reasoning and almost always corrupt statistical analysis," and describes concrete ways to improve content of presentations.

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If you are ever going to hold a presentation with slideshow software (like PP or Keynote), you must read this essay!
Its the best analysis of what this kind of software acutally do with the massage ever written. ( )
  haraldgroven | Sep 8, 2019 |
This was a much more engaging read than I expected it to be. It's not just a cranky old academic complaining about style. He really rips PowerPoint apart. The in-depth analysis of the NASA incident is especially damning. PowerPoints were used in place of technical reports when they were assessing the damage to the Space Shuttle Columbia's wing. Although the evidence did not truly suggest the shuttle would be fine, the takeaway from reading the PowerPoints was that everything would be OK. Instead the shuttle overheated and blew up upon reentry.

This was especially interesting for me, having just recently finished "Understanding Media" by Marshall McLuhan. I could sense McLuhan's ideas underneath Tufte's text. Tufte argues that PowerPoint is a marketer's tool for sales pitches, which are not intended to deliver true information. They exist to manipulate the audience. And that is what has become of our scientific, academic and professional meetings. We do not deliver evidence with PowerPoint, we deliver a sales pitch. The result is poor decision making. I'd love to hear both authors thoughts about Twitter (if McLuhan was still alive). This has certainly changed my perception of PowerPoint. ( )
  joshuagomez | May 31, 2019 |
Very very funny ( )
  hcubic | Jul 7, 2013 |
Available at the CIIA, College Hall 310, WWU and Western Libraries
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  ciia | Sep 28, 2010 |
Wow, Tufte is really pissed off at PowerPoint. I agree with his assessment that powerpoint is the wrong tool for conveying technical analysis. And I can see where PowerPoint leads you into traps, but I still think PowerPoint can be utilized by a competent speaker, and those are all the points he didn't try to make.

aside: I like how when he is talking about the average powerpoint slide only having 12 numbers per table, he lists a table comparing powerpoint to other mediums, and the table only has 12 numbers.
  jcopenha | Apr 27, 2009 |
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"The English language... becomes ugly and inaccurate because our thoughts are foolish, but the slovenliness of our language makes it easier for us to have foolish thoughts."
- George Orwell, "Politics and the English Language"

"For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for Nature cannot be fooled."
- Richard P. Feynman, "What Do You Care What Other People Think?"

"And not waving but drowning."
- Stevie Smith, poem, "Not Waving But Drowning"
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In corporate and government bureaucracies, the standard method for making a presentation is to talk about a list of points organized onto stylized slides projected up on the wall.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Using specific examples, Tufte explains how PowerPoint's templates "usually weaken verbal and spatial reasoning and almost always corrupt statistical analysis," and describes concrete ways to improve content of presentations.

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