61-70 - ABSOLUTE POWERPOINT Can a software package edit our...

Info iconThis preview shows pages 1–3. Sign up to view the full content.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
ABSOLUTE POWERPOINT Can a software package edit our thoughts? By Ian Parker [Reprinted by permission from The Conde Nast Publications, Inc. This article first appeared in The New Yorker (May 28, 2001): 78ff.] Before there were presentations, there were conversations, which were a little like presentations but used fewer bullet points, and no one had to dim the lights. A woman we can call Sarah Wyndham, a defense-industry consultant living in Alexandria, Virginia, recently began to feel that her two daughters weren't listening when she asked them to clean their bedrooms and do their chores. So, one morning, she sat down at her computer, opened Microsoft's PowerPoint program, and typed: FAMILY MATTERS An approach for positive change to the Wyndham family team. On a new page, she wrote: Lack of organization leads to confusion and frustration among family members. Disorganization is detrimental to grades and to your social life. Disorganization leads to inefficiencies that impact the entire family. Instead of pleading for domestic harmony, Sarah Wyndham was pitching for it. Soon she had eighteen pages of large type, supplemented by a color photograph of a generic happy family riding bicycles, and, on the final page, a drawing of a key-the key to success. The briefing was given only once, last fall. The experience was so upsetting to her children that the threat of a second showing was enough to make one of the Wyndham girls burst into tears. PowerPoint, which can be found on two hundred and fifty million computers around the world, is software you impose on other people. It allows you to arrange text and graphics in a series of pages, which you can project, slide by slide, from a laptop computer onto a screen, or print as a booklet (as Sarah Wyndham did). The usual metaphor for everyday software is the tool, but that doesn't seem to be right here. PowerPoint is more like a suit of clothes, or a car, or plastic surgery. You take it out with you. You are judged by it-you insist on being judged by it. It is by definition a social instrument, turning middle managers into bullet-point dandies. But PowerPoint also has a private, interior influence. It edits ideas. It is, almost surreptitiously, a business manual as well as a business suit, with an opinion-an oddly pedantic, prescriptive opinion-about the way we should think. It helps you make a case, but it also makes its own case: about how to organize information, how much information 61
Background image of page 1

Info iconThis preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full DocumentRight Arrow Icon
to organize, how to look at the world. One feature of this is the AutoContent Wizard, which supplies templates-"Managing Organizational Change" or "Communicating Bad News," say -that are so close to finished presentations you barely need to do more than add your company logo. The "Motivating a Team" template, for example, includes a slide headed "Conduct a Creative Thinking Session": ± Ask: In what ways can we….? o
Background image of page 2
Image of page 3
This is the end of the preview. Sign up to access the rest of the document.

This note was uploaded on 04/18/2008 for the course ENG 303 taught by Professor Any during the Spring '08 term at Rutgers.

Page1 / 10

61-70 - ABSOLUTE POWERPOINT Can a software package edit our...

This preview shows document pages 1 - 3. Sign up to view the full document.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
Ask a homework question - tutors are online