No! Edward Tufte would never!

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I'm proud to say that I just gave my upteenth powerpointless talk on Newton as cop at Fermilab -- got some raised eyebrows but post-talk props; no kittens killed and the rhythm of story and argument allowed to unfold without the sudden halts and lurches evoked by slides that are more makeable than potent.

I'll readily admit slides can be effective - Larry Lessig certainly uses them well. And in some fields (developmental biology, etc.) it's really hard to teach without any slides (you need to show complex figures that would take too long to draw out). But i'm a huge fan of the chalk talk - and if it saves kittens too, well then, no contest. :)


The first time through I parsed this Power{Pointless}, rather than the intended (and less snarky) {PowerPoint}less. The former is a too apt description of many presentations that would have been better off as the latter.

Of course it's possible to give a good presentation with PowerPoint. The problem with PowerPoint is that it's so easy to give a bad presentation. To paraphrase Dostoyevsky: Good PowerPoints are all alike; every bad PowerPoint is bad in its own way.

By Eric Lund (not verified) on 18 Mar 2010 #permalink

I do quite a bit of lecturing (I'm not a teacher), and for years I refused to use the computer in my lectures because the equipment never worked reliably. However, I had an epiphany after watching Scott McCloud's talk at TED, and now I use Keynote (Mac for "PowerPoint") heavily in my presentations. But I adhere to an iron rule:

All language comes out of my mouth. Keynote solely for images.

By Erasmussimo (not verified) on 18 Mar 2010 #permalink

Tufte WOULD TOO kill kittens, if it clearly, concisely, and with a minimum of 'window dressing', conveyed the point he was intending to make.

Oh, and if he could sell posters of it from his store, that might help too! :-)

By Colin Burgess (not verified) on 21 Mar 2010 #permalink

Eric Lund, that's Tolstoy, not Dostoevsky (Anna Karenina).