Thursday, March 19, 2015

To Powerpoint or not...

Some observers have claimed that one of the contributing factors in the space shuttle Challenger disaster was the use of Power Point to communicate complex engineering considerations to decision makers.

It didn't work it is suggested.

This can be attributed, at least in part, to the problem of the medium, reminiscent of Marshall McLuhan's quip "the medium is the message". Powerpoint constrains, guides and
'encultures' communication to the minimal 'points' that can be crammed into a slide. It doesn't suit the complexities of argument and judgement, but only the conclusion, or the way stations of thinking; not the reasoning itself. It lead, in the case cited, to the fatally wrong decision.

There are plenty of good ways to use Powerpoint, and that's to provide graphic information: relevant images, graphs, and so on. But only in context, and not just because you can. So I was pleased to read this in the Fin Review the other day:

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