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Tufte and Powerpoint

July 31, 2006

I have always loved Tufte’s work on visualisation and it informs a lot of the design of Sensemaker™. My thanks to John Maloney on the Value Networks list serve for making me aware of his wicked attack on Powerpoint.

That web site also contains the news that Tufte has written a monograph The Cognitive Style of Powerpoint.

The counter to this which just came in the same list serve argues that because we have bad speakers powerpoint is a good idea. There is a simple solution to that – only use good speakers and also train people to present. When I was in school from the age of 11 we did several things that improved this:

Firstly we debated every week – and we were not told the motion or which side we were on until we stood up to speak

Secondly we had to learn poems by heart

Thirdly we had to perform or at least read through a play or two every year

Some of those disciplines seem to have left education of recent years – and while I realise I am now becoming old and romanticising the past, but I think we have lost something.

Incidentally you will see I have now got the hand of references. At one point it looked like I might have to give up using Safari and break my only Apple products rule (there is nothing like a recent convert for fanaticism) but thanks to our outstanding web master I have now been taught basic XML so the day has been saved. Apologies for messing around with this entry this morning, but I have been getting the syntax right!

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