Thursday, April 29, 2010

Wordless Screaming

There was an article in the New York Times, the other morning that caused me to smile and grimace simultaneously. I didn't really need to read it (though I did) because I agreed with the headline, had seen the nearly-legendary visual that went with the story, and lived through countless, some might suggest innumerable, close, personal encounters of the worst kind.

The article was, when I was in the Air Force, what we called a BGO, blinding glimpse of the obvious. And its premise was/is that PowerPoint has lots of the former and none of the latter. I've endured my share of meetings where multi-colored pie charts demonstrate conclusively (and irrefutably) "11" is larger than "5". I've always loved the animations some folks use to make these very points--though it's hard to not adore the old stand-by, stacks of various heights so even a cretin can grasp three dollars is much many more than two. There's nothing like the classics.

Not so amusing has been the amount of my life that's been invested in supporting this kind of puppet show mummery-but since misery loves company I point out that few, if any, of the folks who requisition my help are ever very happy that I show up with a shoe box full of hand puppets while wearing finger puppets (it's hard to get those suckers on, too, after you've got a couple on already on one hand; and I don't have a lot of friends to help). I get invited to less and fewer of these soirees as time passes. Hey, I'm a traditionalist-what can I say?

And it's not fair, in a way to blame the device-when it's we who made it, used it and now over use it, just like everything else we put our hands to. We will have access to more information, vastly more than we can process or retain, by the end of today than has existed throughout all of civilization. Actually, that's crap-I suspect something like that statement is probably true, but like the talking heads on TV, I don't have the time to research or confirm it as a truth, so I'll just proclaim it my truth and because you have no way to compare, measure or analyze, you'll buy in on it.

Then tomorrow, we can make it into a bullet on a slide and then turn that into a bumper sticker. Soon, we'll have a movement, with a website and maybe some endorsement deals. Between you and me, considering how full of it as a species we already are, it's amazing we don't have non-stop movements, but that's a discussion for another time. Next slide please, "Confusion through Consensus." Yes, it's just a random collection of various parts of speech-what you read it to mean is what your reality and welcome to it. Subject to your briefing, that concludes my questions.
-bill kenny

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