Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Exactly How Long Has PowerPoint Been Around?

by Dick Mac

I've been working in the legal technology field for over twenty-five years. I think I remember when PowerPoint didn't exist. Today, though, it is as if it has existed since the beginning of time.

Do you think Pontius Pilate watched a PowerPoint presentation of Jesus' scourging, struggle through the streets, and eventual crucifixion? Using PowerPoint's flowchart feature, Pilate could have seen a rather dynamic and engaging slideshow, complete with animation and sound effects.

I wonder if PowerPoint 0027 allowed embedding of media clips. I sure hope it had a variety of Greek fonts.

The Roman marketing or client services department could have used sound bites from the yet-to-be-released "Messiah" and video clips from the forthcoming movie "Jesus Christ Superstar" (which movie holds-up much better now than it did thirty years ago).

Sadly, I don't think PowerPoint was available to them; but, think of getting that plum assignment in 32 A.D. The career I could have built on that!

A couple years ago, Microsoft (owner of PowerPoint) released PowerPoint 2007. The newest version (soon to be replaced by PowerPoint 2010), changed every part of the PowerPoint experience. The basic file structure was changed from a simple binary file to a robust XML format. The features are remarkable and could make the presentation "Iesus Nazarenus, Rex Iudaeorum" a phenomenal and engaging project.

Sadly, PowerPoint is rarely used for anything quite as engaging as the martyrdom of a deity. It's usually about cost analyses, or staffing levels, or corporate mergers, or project implementation.

Recently a PowerPoint slide about the United States occupation of Afghanistan made its way into the press.

It is belittled by dullards (that is, conservatives and other anti-intellectuals) as being complicated. It is laughed-at by people like me who see the point but can't fathom why you would bother creating it. It is lauded by those geekier than me as a true graphic representation of our mission.

No matter what you think of it, it's sure worth a look!

We Have Met the Enemy and He Is PowerPoint at the New York Times site.


Kathei Logue said...

Poor Robert, if PowerPoint had been around in Christ's time religion today would be very very different. Although that might not be a bad thing.

I'm waiting for time travel. I've been reading science fiction since the late '50s and, although much of it has come to pass, I'm still waiting for time travel.

There are so many things that I would like to see the "reality" of. Even in my own life I'd like to check my memory against reality.

It's a scary proposition but I still would like to check it out.

ckb said...

Pontius Pilate would never have had the patience to sit through a PowerPoint of all that. He would have had IT put it together, had his Admin Asst email a copy to Rome and made sure all the bigwigs were copied, though. Then he would have got on speakerphone with them and acted like it was all his idea. But if there was a backlash of Roman public opinion, he would have totally blamed whoever put the file together as having used scenes and sound bites "out of context". "Yes, the Nazarene was here briefly while being transported by Jewish officials to the site of his execution, which I did NOT authorize -- all I said was that Jesus was theirs to dispose of as they wished. How was I to know they'd take me literally? That slideshow is totally out of context and certainly doesn't represent anything *I* heard that day.... Say, I'd like to requisition some more of that antibacterial soap while I have you on the line -- you know, the good stuff made with Tiber water."