"PowerPoint is Evil" by Edward Tufte is an article that I've read before, but that really sticks with a person with its statement that "PowrPoint? presentation elevates format over content, betraying an attitude of commercialism that turns everything into a sales pitch.' Tufte finds it terrible that children are now taught, from a very young age, to do PowerPoints? for their presentations which Tufte sees as equal to formatting an infomercial. I have to say that I agree with him. As much as I've worked on presentations to correspond with a PowerPoint, they inevitably look equal to something another person worked eight minutes on. PowerPoint does no encourage going into depth or the internalization of information: it is commercially designed and cannot easily hold much text. As a result, materials do always look very simple formatted, and even when possibly distracting graphics are added, dull (even when the information one is hoping to convey is not). Tufte's description of PowerPoint presentations as like school plays "very loud, very slow, and very simple," is one that most of us can unfortunately laugh at because we relate to it too well.
David Byrne, in the same issue as Tufte, wrote an article that I had unfortunately not seen with Tufte's piece when I read it a few years ago "Learning to Love PowerPoint." The artistic works that Byrne managed to create using the program amazed me. I used PowerPoint for well over a year to create a bosses' quarterly projections and I never managed to make anything nearly as beautiful as Byrne. I'd have to say, though, that while his article makes the point we can use PowerPoint more effectively, it didn't give us many reasons (other than for the sake of satirizing) that a person should. Hopefully, though, PowerPoint users will adapt their uses of it to make it more effective as a result of the article and change it from loud, slow and simple to something better.
The arguments on visual rhetoric for this section dealt with how to resist "...overlooking the rhetorical function
of graphics, small or large, which we might often find so easy to ignore or to dismiss subconsciously as decoration,"
(Handa 305). Indeed, Lanham, the author of chapter 23, argues that decoration or ornament always serves a purpose and
is not merely ornamental, "It feeds a genuine human hunger, the hunger for style," (370).
Though our society long neglected the image and, to this day, prizes words more highly, "words are just as imprecise as images since explicitness for both rests on the contexts in which we use them," (306). Shauf, the author of chapter 22, also
made the noteworthy point that use of the visual, particularly as it ties to media usage, (drawing->photography->
film->video->new media) does not actually have such a linear progression. Writing and visual work off of each other to convey
information and have as long as both have been established. As with different media, one does not necessarily outrank another
and make it obsolete, all have their own place and attempt to convey in different, and often harmonious, ways. This does not mean, though, that any
useable technology should be used to fill a situation. As Shauf noted, in regards to watching "insufferable" wedding videos with
friends, "It is easy enough to engage the technology, but one must ask to what end, for what rhetorical purpose. Going beyond the
photo album is, of course, no reason to go at all," (368).
Visual rhetoric must be done to convey information effectively, not simply because it can be. While we are finally learning the
importance of images to storytelling, just using visuals because we can does not add to the conversation or in any way, help us to convey our message. It breaks the rule of form following function and detracts from our purpose.
Horn's "Rhetorical Devices..." was a nice, very short, chapter. I'm going to photocopy it and post it somewhere so I'll
finally remember that metonymy means "the name of one thing is used for that of another with which it is associated," (372).