Monday, March 30, 2015

PowerPoint ills

Yates & Orlikowski (). The PowerPoint presentation and its corollaries : how genres shape communicative action in organizations.

The authors note that genres evolve to meet expectations and new needs. Presentations, for example, weren't required in early companies due to their relatively small size and informal processes. Conference papers, meanwhile, were actually read manuscripts.

The first textbook on the topic was Brinton's _Graphic methods for presenting facts_  (https://archive.org/details/graphicmethodsfo00brinrich). Brinton recognized the importance of charts. DuPont actually built a chart room some time between 1919 and 1922 which contained 350 charts. Slides and overhead transparencies became a normal part of presentations in the 1980s. Bullets become more common as did builds.

There is the mysterious hybrid deck that consultants leave behind after an engagement: "PowerPoint texts created with this dual purpose typically have too much content to be effective presentation aids (which should support, not overshadow, the speaker, according the genre norms of the business presentation) and too little content and context (and too few references and appendixes) to fulfill expectations for the report genre."

And, of course, there is NASA's condemnation: "During its investigation, the board was surprised to receive similar presentation slides from NASA officials in place of technical reports. The board views the endemic use of PowerPoint briefing slides instead of technical papers as an illustration of teh problematic methods of technical communication at NASA."

PowerPoint as a tool has consequences: "Indeed, we see consequences for the audience (and sometimes even for the presenter) that include limited comprehension, information overload ("death by PowerPoint"), lack of reflection, idea fragmentation, and reductionism."

"As electronic or paper renditions of PowerPoint texts become the only record of major activities, comprehension is reduced and organizational memory deteriorates."

CHK: Zerubavel. Hidden rhythms : schedules and calendars in social life.

NB -- I think the problem with PowerPoint is that it is really too unstructured. It has too many affordances which leads to a complete lack of structure or genre.

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