Speaking of Powerpoint, I think the common format sucks, but not in the usual way people say it sucks (too concise to be meaningful, or boring). I think communicating in presentation format is fine when the occasion calls for it. The problems I see are

  1. During a presentation people are either listening to me speak or reading my slide, not both simultaneously, and
  2. a deck doesn’t contain enough information to be meaningful on its own after the presentation.

So, I’m going to try a format that uses one big image next to a paragraph of text. The text will be at a typeface impossible to read from the audience, wherever that is, so people will be forced to either listen to me or daydream. And it will contain more information than the usual bullet points, so it’ll make sense without having to present it. And the image will serve to reinforce the words, or induce daydreaming. I will feed their ears and their eyes and they shall be satisfied.

Last year, I think, I did some work at an Ivory Tower consulting firm. They have a rich tradition of internal research; every consultant is required to pump out a certain minimum of work for internal use per year. In recent history though, instead of the old white papers, consultants have been contributing their Powerpoint slides to the pool of thought. And when searching for research internally (which they, in their elite position, prefer), the librarians there report they tend to read Powerpoint decks over other formats, as the information in that format is accessed more quickly. I have to wonder if they’ve found a more efficient way or if there’s details being lost in the shuffle in the interest of speed.

n_gen Interview

Remember n_gen (site’s down, or else I’d link there)? There’s an interview with its makers. Smart, sensible folks. My favorite bits:

By analyzing what we believe to be successful designs, is it possible to determine formulae for what is pleasing to the eye? What are the rules and principles that talented designers instinctively employ in their work and can these rules be simulated by a computer program? ….

We see a lot of software out there that is intended to streamline the production process, but it’s as if the design/conceptualizing process is a sacred cow that mustn’t be touched, as if creativity and hard work go hand in hand….

Graphic design virtuosity is not that rare or special and as much as we love beautiful design, applying a pretty skin to something structurally ordinary is not that interesting to us anymore. I suppose we’re just trying to wake people up a bit and suggest that maybe there’s more to design than throwing nice pictures on top of conventional information structures….

Designers need to realize that they’ve had a monopoly on digital visualization for some time now, and that time is coming to an end.