The Cognitive Style of Powerpoint

I’m reading Edward Tufte’s The Cognitive Style of Powerpoint and found this quote to be a provocative summary of his observations. If you’re not familiar with Edward Tufte, he has written a number of fabulous and beautiful books on information visualization.

He writes about powerpoint (emphasis in the original text):

…the metaphor behind the PP cognitive style is the software corporation itself. That is, a big bureaucracy engaged in computer programming (deeply hierarchical, nested, highly structured, relentlessly sequential, one-short-line-at-a-time) and in marketing (fast pace, misdirection, advocacy not analysis, slogan thinking, branding, exaggerated claims, marketplace ethics). To describe a software house is to describe the PowerPoint cognitive style. Why should the structure, activities, and values of a large commercial bureaucracy be a useful metaphor for our presentations? Could any metaphor be worse? Voice-mail menu systems? Billboards? Television? Stalin?

He further says:

High-resolution handouts allow viewers to contextualize, compare, narrate and recast evidence. In contrast, data-thin, forgetful displays tend to make audiences ignorant and passive…

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