The politics of presentation software

Presentation software has been stuck in neutral forever. Web applications, however, are firing on all cylinders. Some say Word and Excel are about to be Web 2.0 roadkill. Not me. The browser can't yet substitute for those applications. But for PowerPoint? Any day now. [Full story at]

Jim Hall objected to this column on the following grounds:

By advocating software that only a minority can use, you are not addressing the real problem. I would submit that someone who can code HTML has the same likelihood of wandering off point as someone who can't. I suggest that you recall back to the days of yore, when you and I were in grammar school. Teachers without technology had just as much potential to wander hither and yon all over their subject as their technologically enabled colleagues. This remains true in the professional world as you are certainly aware.

The key, Jon, is not the technology, but the focused mind of the presenter. The unfocused mind will waste our time with or without PowerPoint and with or without your web apps.


I am disappointed with this article because you have allowed this elitist technology to distract you from performing a comprehensive evaluation of the software's tools and capabilities as well as the ease or apparent lack thereof for most people to utilize. Please stay on point next time.
Fair comments. As Mark Wilcox also pointed out, referencing the work of Cliff Atkinson, effective storytelling is what makes a great presentation, and you can use any kind of presentation software to help you tell a great story.

That said, I'll argue that it's democratic, not elitist, to believe that presentations ought to be first-class citizens of the web, viewable by any standards-based browser with full interactive fidelity. If we've failed to fully democratize the necessary authoring software -- as, so far, we have -- then shame on us. There's no longer any good reason why we couldn't make it easy for people to create effective presentations through the web as well as for the web, and there are plenty of good reasons why we could and should.

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