Donald Norman in Defense of Powerpoint

Design guru, Donald Norman, has written a response to Edward Tufte’s The Cognitive Style of PowerPoint, in which Tufte claimed that PowerPoint, among other things, caused the Challenger disaster. Norman writes:

Everyone agrees, I hope, on the undesirability of the long, boring talk in which the speaker reads things to us that we are perfectly capable of reading to ourselves. Bullet point slides often lead to poor talks, but the problem is with the talk, not with the tool. We have had poor talks long before PowerPoint. We have even had bullet points long before PowerPoint—long before computers. In the old days, people typed, stenciled or hand-lettered their slides onto transparencies which were shown with the aid of overhead projectors or wall charts, or photographed them on to glass-plated photographic slides and then, later, 35 mm. slides. These talks were also dull and tedious.

This essay was tucked away, unfinished, in a drawer for more than a year. I’m glad Donald got around to finish it.

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