Parker on Powerpoint
Parker presents a few characteristics of Powerpoint that do not seem to be as unique as she suggests.
She states that PowerPoint breaks with the usual idea of a software application as a tool (instead a car, suit of clothes, or plastic surgery?) in that you can take it with you, you are judged by it and insist on being judged by it. However, I disagree, since you do not really take PowerPoint with you; you take with you the product, which is true of the product of many applications. Actually Parker’s description could be applied to many other applications, as well. Consider a Word-doc proposal or a PhotoShop-created client logo; the creator is taking with him/her the product to present to another individual and insist on being judged by it.
She also notes that PowerPoint offers “..an oddly pedantic, prescriptive opinion about the way we should think…[and] … also makes its own case: about how to organize information, how much information to organize, how to look at the world.” While this is true, I do not see it as unique. The statement is merely defining any template-based application, which almost forces users to organize information in a specific manner.
Parker does raise some valid points as to what PowerPoint is and how we use it. However, it seems she is trying to hard to make it seem inordinately unique, when it is really a tool not so unlike others. PowerPoint is just a visual tool to accompany an orator through a presentation, not unlike a poster or whiteboard presentation. I do not find that speakers – and more so audiences – are dependent on Powerpoint as an essential factor in the orated content. It does not squeeze out the storyteller (as Parker suggests). However, I will acknowledge that it can favor the non-storyteller at times in that it favors well-organized material that is chunked with heading sections, sub-sections, etc.