NY Times Letters to the Editor:
The Art of Persuasion, by Powerpoint. I wonder if anyone else caught that little irony there ... Aldus Persuasion having owned the market long before the bundled, less-powerful Powerpoint killed it.
As someone who spent many years producing speaker support, I would love to blame Powerpoint. It, and its ilk, virtually killed an industry. But all technologies at the time were based on building bullet points on the screen. I used a system called TVL, which used live video and ‘bullet-point software’ to build presentations.
Where the rubber hit the road, was the speaker her/himself. A poor speaker needed more bullet points, just to get the essentials across. An excellent speaker would handle all the bullet points in their speech, leaving the onscreen information to take a more general nature ... often, no bullet points, but photographs of the items being talked about, or video. We were able to illustrate the dry content, increasing the retention of information. When you got a presenter who could ad-lib fluidly, you knew you had a lot of creative leeway.
When Powerpoint became ubiquitous, there was a shift from the presentation industry to managers and their secretaries. They had no knowledge of color and contrast, they had no training in delivery. Color choices were limited. No gratuitous animations (for which I can thank our lucky stars, in retrospect). But gobs of really crappy clip-art.
Chalk up the failures of Powerpoint to the empowering of “everyone.”
I supported one Powerpoint presentation before I left the industry and transitioned to the Internet. I would not be working on the Internet today, or weblogging, if not for this incident. The CEO had created the presentation himself. Instead of 4-8 bullet points for each individual image, he had crammed about 35, in 6-point type. Readable on a computer screen ... even with the terrible color choices he’d made (green type on burgundy). Rear-project it on a 40 foot screen, however, and you got hash.
I cajoled, warned, plead, prayed ... when the images came up, the audience actually laughed. The presenter pulled out his laser pointer, and proceeded to talk to the ‘invisible’ bullet points. After about three images, you could hear the sighs, near-moans, in the audience.
When the presentation was over, the speaker came towards me with a determined walk. I was expecting a burst of invective.
He grabbed my hand, shook it, and said, “Now I feel I’m in the 21st century.”
Forgive them, Father. They have no freaking idea how awful they are.
Friends in highbrow places. Gets my link for using “febrile fulmination” to excellent effect.
The Vocabula Review:
Singular They; the pronoun that came in from the cold. Most Americans take a Cockney accent for British upper-class ... or come to think of it, *any* British-sounding accent for upper class. South African. Australian. The nuances generally fall on unappreciative ears.
NY Times Op-ed:
Colleges caught in a vise. Nothing like whacking them in the head, while pulling the rug out from under their feet.
Butterflies & Wheels:
In focus: What is Elitism? “If we’re too afraid of being smug and superior and self-righteous to have any opinions at all, we just become vacuous spineless shapeless nothings, and we can never improve or correct or change anything.”
“You, Sir, are a Bore.” Personally, I chalk it up to diminished education in America, and bottom-feeding television. The creative insult is never thought of; mere four-letter words illuminate not at all. Stand-up comedians seem to be the only practitioners of ‘thinking on your feet.’ “‘You will die, sir, either on the gallows or from the pox,’ said Montagu. To which Wilkes replied, ‘That depends, sir, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress.’”
NY Times Magazine:
The Futile Pursuit of Happiness. ‘’‘Maybe it’s important for there to be carrots and sticks in the world, even if they are illusions,’ he adds. ‘They keep us moving towards carrots and away from sticks.’‘’
My new friend, Hegel. “Thinkers like Locke, Hume and Smith make inspiring reading for entrepreneurs: they reinforce the belief that the individual is justified in pursuing his own happiness with only cursory regard for others. Hegel, by contrast, makes inspiring reading for civil servants and, if their heart is in the right place, for politicians.”
An entire library on an e-book form-factor. Until it smells of aged leather and dust. Until it cracks as you open it. Until it has the tactile pleasure of crisp vellum. Until it has unique and beautiful historical fonts. Until it has enough rigidity to survive a fall from the bed to the floor, as I fall asleep reading it ... nah, I’ll stick with books. An unrepentant luddite, you say. Via BookLab II.
looks at MIT OpenCourseware. Education wants ... nay, NEEDS ... to be free.
Scholars perform autopsy on ancient writing systems. They say accessibility is the issue; maybe it’s more education and affluence of the society as a whole. You must have free time, time not spent providing food and shelter, to sit and write.
Restoring community, and promoting learning?
NY Times Editorial:
Universities in decline. Another of our nation’s great shames, allowing the state college system to wither. By hook or by crook, the Republican Party seems bent on increasing the population of our national blue-collar class, one turned-away student at a time.
Butterflies & Wheels:
New York Times:
Einstein’s Clocks, Poincare’s Maps. “In May 1905, on a hill from which he and his friend Michele Besso could see both the electrically synchronized clocks of Bern and the as yet uncoordinated clock in the tower of suburban Muri, Einstein realized in a flash that the only thing that would not change in empty space was a particular speed.”
NY Times Editorial Observer, Verlyn Klinkenborg:
In the British fallout over Iraq, even Walter Mitty has a part to play. “I have decided that the Little Man, the bewildered man, the nervous, beaten, wife-crossed man, is a realer and stronger thing in American life than ... the Hemingway men that choke guys to death.” Excerpt from Thurber’s book.
Richard Feynman’s Diagrams. “Beyond a mere calculating trick, he came to see in the lines of his diagrams a patchwork of comings and goings on the microlevel, particles careening to and fro as they marched through space and time.”