Why the world is broken
Part 2 – Microsoft Powerpoint
Microsoft Powerpoint is perhaps the best demonstration of the dangers in choosing to ignore the wise addage “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it”.
There was a time when corporate seminars were simply tedious, dry events lacking any sort of soul or joy.
To lighten the mood, some foolhardy souls attempted to make jokes during the seminars; Putting a slide of something inappropriate, like a naked woman, amidst the others for example. The joyless half-hearted murmer of laughter that would follow was enough to convince the joker never to try anything like it again.
Someone must have realised this, and thought to themselves “Jesus these events are tedious as hell….but I can’t help feeling they could be made even worse. So bad that people would rather stick pins in their eyes than attend them.”.
This flash of genius led to the development of Satan’s deadliest tool yet…Powerpoint.
Today I witnessed something that truly scared me. The speaker attempted to make the “inappropriate slide” joke…but with Powerpoint. Even with real slides, where the idea of a dodgy one getting in the batch is at least feasibile, this joke usually falls flat. With powerpoint it reaches new levels of desperation and despair…
No-one can just stand up and talk anymore. They have to set up the video projector, reboot their laptop several times to get the resolution/settings right, load up their powerpoint presentation and then go through every tortous, vaccuuous, slide, one by one. As each meaningless sentence appears on the screen behind them, they have to try and come up with a monologue that captures the interest of the audience, whom by now have, at best, fallen asleep, at worst, hanged themselves. Of course to get even this far they must have already spent a surprisingly long time tinkering with it, changing fonts, colours, patterns, clip-art and animations without once enhancing the actual content.
You see, nowadays, content just doesn’t matter. Style outwieghs substance every time, and everyone is fiercely proud of how stylish they really are.
To ensure the next generation don’t start getting clever ideas about…well anything really…the government has taken drastic action. They’ve put powerpoint in the schools. Sheer brilliance.
By the time you child is old enough to read they will already be starting to wonder why the pages of the book don’t have “themes”. “Why is the whole book in the same font ?”. “They haven’t even put any clip-art in – duh!”.
Give year-6 (4th year/10yr old) kids a project on the Tudors and they’ll spend 10 minutes looking stuff up on the net and a week getting the powerpoint presentation right. Who cares if they even know about Henry VIII at the end, as long as they have demonstrated “good IT skills” by picking the right graphics and colours, they can put their names down for the MBA and uncle Tony will be happy.