Microsoft PowerPointpresentation program developed for the Microsoft Windows and Mac OS computer operating systems. Being widely used by businesspeople, educators, and trainers, it is among the most prevalent forms of persuasion technology: according to its vendor, Microsoft Corporation, some 30 million presentations are made with PowerPoint every day.
PowerPoint in edit mode, showing a list of slides (left), the active slide being edited (top right) and speaker notes for the slide (bottom right)
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3 Cultural effects
4 See also
5 External links
In PowerPoint, as in most other presentation software, text, graphics, movies, and other objects are positioned on individual pages or "slides". Slides can be printed, or (more usually) displayed on-screen and navigated through at the command of the presenter. Transitions between slides can be animated in a variety of ways, as can the emergence of elements on a slide itself. The overall design of a presentation can be controlled with a master slide; and the overall structure, extending to the text on each slide, can be edited using a primitive outliner.
PowerPoint was originally developed by Bob Gaskins, a former Berkeley Ph.D. student who envisioned an easy-to-use presentation program that would manipulate a string of slides. In 1984, Gaskins joined a failing Silicon Valley software firm called Forethought and hired a software developer, Dennis Austin. Their prototype program was called "Presenter", but was changed to PowerPoint to avoid a trademark problem.
Later in 1987, Forethought and PowerPoint were purchased by Microsoft Corporation for $14 million. In 1988 the first Windows and DOS versions were produced. PowerPoint has since been a standard part of the Microsoft Office suite of applications.
The 2002 version, part of the Office XP Professional suite and also available as a stand-alone product, provides features such as comparing and merging changes in presentations, the ability to define animation paths for individual shapes, pyramid/radial/target and Venn diagrams, multiple slide masters, a "task pane" to view and select text and objects on the clipboard, password protection for presentations, automatic "photo album" generation, and the use of "smart tags" allowing people to quickly select the format of text copied into the presentation.
Being part of Microsoft Office has allowed PowerPoint to become the world's most widely used presentation program, even if not the best one. As Microsoft Office files are often sent from one computer user to another, arguably the most important feature of any presentation software -- such as Apple's Keynote, or OpenOffice.org Impress -- has become the ability to open PowerPoint files.
Supporters and critics generally agree that PowerPoint's ease of use can save a lot of time for people who otherwise would have used other types of visual aid -- hand-drawn or mechanically typeset slides, blackboards or whiteboards, or overhead projections. That same ease of use means that others may be encouraged to make presentations who otherwise would not have used visual aids, or would not have given a presentation at all. But as PowerPoint's style, animation, and multimedia abilities have become more sophisticated, and as PowerPoint has become generally easier to produce presentations with (even to the point of having an "AutoContent Wizard" suggesting a structure for a presentation), the difference in needs and desires of presenters and audiences has become more noticeable.
One major source of criticism of PowerPoint comes from Yale professor of statistics and graphic design Edward Tufte. In his essay The cognitive style of PowerPoint, Tufte criticizes many emergent properties of the software:
- Its use to guide and reassure a presenter, rather than to enlighten the audience;
- Unhelpfully simplistic tables and charts, resulting from the low resolution of computer displays;
- The outliner causing ideas to be arranged in an unnecessarily deep hierarchy, itself subverted by the need to restart the hierarchy on each slide;
- Enforcement of the audience's linear progression through that hierarchy (whereas with handouts, readers could browse and relate items at their leisure);
- Poor typography and chart layout, from presenters who are poor designers and who use poorly-designed templates and default settings;
- Simplistic thinking, from ideas being squashed into bulleted lists, and stories with beginning, middle, and end being turned into a collection of disparate, loosely disguised points. This may present a kind of image of objectivity and neutrality that people associate with science, technology, and "bullet points".
Although many of Tufte's points seem to be well-taken, a number of experts strongly disagree with his analysis for a variety of reasons - see the article "Five Experts Disagree with Tufte on PowerPoint" here.
Cliff Atkinson, a management consultant at Sociable Media, has written extensively about organizational issues related to PowerPoint, including interviews with experts from the fields of marketing, cognitive science, law, information design, and more.
University of Toronto management professor David Beatty says: "PowerPoint is like a disease. It's the AIDS of management." He advises spending 85 percent of one's time on figuring out what to say, and only 15 percent on how. He also reports that 3M has strongly discouraged the use of PowerPoint because "it removes subtlety and thinking", and the company believes that it causes people to focus on pretty pictures rather than doing what they are paid to do. Other prominent executives in the information technology industry have declared their offices "PowerPoint-free zones".
Meanwhile, some have celebrated the abilities of PowerPoint for artistic purposes. David Byrne, for example, created artworks with PowerPoint for his book and DVD Envisioning Emotional Epistemological Information.