• Andrew Smith


Excerpt #2/2 from 'How PowerPoint is killing critical thought', an essay by British author, essayist, and documentary-maker Andrew Smith. He is the author of 'Moondust: In Search of the Men Who Fell to Earth' (Bloomsbury 2009) and 'Totally Wired: The Wild Rise and Crazy Fall of the First Dotcom Dream' (Simon & Schuster 2013).

'... PP can only present propositions and arguments as equations... They appear to have no owner; no one need feel responsible for them. In the post-banking-crisis world, we know both how seductive this is – and how dangerous. Some canny business leaders are now following Steve Jobs’s example, and (Edward) Tufte’s advice, by restricting PP use to pictures.

'I spoke to a former colleague, now a professor of journalism: a super-smart, tech-savvy man who has thought about this a great deal. He reminds staff that lecturing is a form of performance and must be treated as such. He thinks the new pressure on universities to generate revenue – to behave like businesses – has tipped the balance from communicators to researchers. (Though in truth, what doesn’t take the form of a pitch in the financialised world of 2015?)

'My friend also told me that when he removed PowerPoint from lecture theatres, his students demanded it back, because without it they had to organise their own notes.

'In this century, it seems to me, our greatest enemy will not be drones or Isis or perhaps even climate change: it will be convenience. '

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