Monday, August 22, 2005

Power Corrupts - Powerpoint corrupts absolutely?

This CNN report, title, "Does Powerpoint Make Us Stupid?" is a fun read. It reports on a coffeetable book by rock star David Byrne using Powerpoint to create whimsical images. There are also entertaining quotes like the one in the title to this Blog entry, really from Vint Cerf, one of the creators of the Internet. And the guy who used Powerpoint to draw up the Gettysburg Address, with to-do list such as "new birth of freedom" and "government not perish," Peter Norvig. Norvig is the guy who makes probably the best analogy. He says Powerpoint doesn't kill meetings, people kill meetings (does this sound familiar?), but having Powerpoint at your meeting is like having a loaded assault weapon on the table. Geez.

Well, I thought about this, not just getting ready for my class, where I do (gasp, blush) use a few Powerpoint presentations through the semester. But I also thought about it in terms of whether it changes the way people think, period, to use a technology. Does it change us to use Blackboard to post the assignments and handouts? Does it change the students to use an OPAC rather than the old oak catalog drawers? (In case they use the OPAC). I suspect we are changing the way our brains work, store and retrieve information. I don't necessarily think it's a bad thing, but I think we ought to be aware of it, and I think law schools need to get with the program and start gearing the education they offer to adjust for it.

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