- Paperback: 23 pages
- Publisher: Graphics Press (July 2003)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0961392150
- ISBN-13: 978-0961392154
- Product Dimensions: 0.2 x 8.5 x 10.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 3.2 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 76 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,873,435 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Cognitive Style of PowerPoint
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A booklet that examines the type of thinking/cognition that Powerpoint encourages.
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In this brief, wisely written short essay Tufte shows how powerpoint presentations can and have destroyed good ideas.
How important points concerning the safety of the Challenger astronauts were know, how they were hidden from decision makers and how responsiblilities were avoided.
The representation of the Gettysburg address is magnificent.
His simple recommendations on how to make more effective presentations avoiding powerpoint and encouraging analyses and learning are a great reminder of our capabilities.
Tufte is responsible for changing how I teach. I used to like lecture with PowerPoint notes (or, when I got more advanced, notes written in the Beamer class of LaTeX). It always bothered me that my students thought the class was just the slides on the screen and my talking or not was irrelevant. I was even more disturbed on tests when there was no understanding.
My problem wasn't so much the medium but my use of it, and that is Tufte's point about PowerPoint. It does make a fine support. It can show simple diagrams, unfamiliar terms, and pictures.
What it does NOT do is present dense information well. This is better absorbed by reading or by doing something. And (in my profession) what student really enjoys listening to the teacher summarize information that the student could read and summarize himself. Much better to have a guided activity that reviews or uses the information.
Now I do recognize that Tufte's focus was not on education. But the principle is the same: talks are for summaries. For detailed information I need to be able to read, re-read, go back, flip forward, and take notes. In a talk, a summary of the highlights or a plan of action is best because this can actually be absorbed.
The Cognitive Style of PowerPoint: Pitching Out Corrupts Within, Second Edition by Edward R. Tufte makes me wonder:
- can you make a point in list format?
- why are we in such a hurry to get to our point?
- is Tufte making a statement by referring to PowerPoint as PP in his text?
- why do we think style is more communicative than substance?
Reasons to get and read this book:
- you'll never want to make a class presentation using PowerPoint again, even if it is required you do so
- if you never noticed irritating blips, beeps, background color and distracting graphics...you will after reading the book
- it will give you cause to sit back and really talk for a while about what you think, rather than give visual bites (the PowerPoint version of sound bites)