From a young age, we were taught how to use certain computer programs, like word processors (Word, WordPerfect, etc), to get acquainted with how they work and to learn to use them better in the future. I have first learned to use one program, a slideshow program call PowerPoint, in middle school and have used it during my time in college. Even my little brother has used it for a 4th Grade project. Overtime, I have found that PowerPoint is good for teaching us to put information in order and to present our work in within a specific timeframe. But I have learned that are some things that PowerPoint is not god at teaching us. Edward Tufte, the author of the article PowerPoint is Evil, argues that PowerPoint became a substitute for our presentations, and does little to gain input from the audience or to preserve the value of its content. (1) While I looked further into Tufte’s argument, I used The Gettysburg PowerPoint Presentation provide examples of the problems Tufte describes in his article.
Tufte described how PowerPoint didn’t provide ways for the speaker to connect to his/her audience. Because of this, PowerPoint becomes more like a visual aid, where it just displays information rather than help to explain it. The audience doesn’t gain much from the PowerPoint unless the speaker uses it to explain certain details of the presentation. The Gettysburg.ppt is an example of this as it displays parts of the Gettysburg Address, out of its original context. The presentation would be very hard to understand for people who have never read the Gettysburg Address. The presentation just lists words and phrases from the speech and makes no connection to the speech until the end.
Tufte also described the problem of how the PowerPoint format weakens the content of a presentation. Because information is split into individual slides, it makes it difficult for the audience to understand how the information ties together. PowerPoint also limits how much information you can put onto a slide. Too much information can overwhelm the slide and too little information will make the presentation incoherent. An example of these problems can also be seen in the Gettysburg.ppt. When split into individual slides, the Gettysburg Address became incoherent and was hard to see how the information on the slides connected to each other without knowing the context. The presentation also drastically simplified the speech and looses its original meaning.
A solution for these problems would be for the speaker to explain, or recite, the Gettysburg Address before the start of the presentation so the audience will understand the context. The speaker could also explain each slide in relation the Gettysburg Address and inquire the audience for questions during the presentation to make sure they understand.