Saturday, November 3, 2007

We are in DEEP SHIFT as The Lines Between Speaking and Publishing, Between Close-Up Interpersonal and Global Communication Continue to Blurrrrrrrrrr

The lines between speaking and publishing/close-up interpersonal and global communication are getting SO blurred, and the evolution and ascendence of PowerPoint is one good example.

Have you recently pondered the history of PowerPoint? True, most users tend to take it for granted, producing (at best) poor to mediocre slide shows and all too often treating their captive audience to one of our era's most disheartening fates: death by PowerPoint. Still, is this not a remarkable medium/shift in the nature, quality, and technology of communications? Isn't Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth, a story about a man and his PowerPoint, changing the course of human consciousness, the fate of industry, the politics of our globe (as well as being the subject of a 'best seller' movie and winning him a Nobel prize?)... all stemming from creating and sharing a slide deck? < >

For a somewhat comprehensive history of PowerPoint go to the Wikipedia entry on this amazing application . In essence, PowerPoint was released in 1987 (Yes, it's been around over 20 years!). But here's the point about the SHIFT it's undergone and brought about; PowerPoint was originally conceived purely as a support for speakers, people who would make face-to-face presentations to groups large and small, but in all likelihood, mostly to class and conference rooms filled with fewer than 50 souls. It became part of the ultra-ubiquitous Microsoft Office Suite because the developers were looking for 'killer ap' software tools that would help average workers in the global 'every office' get their work done better. Before PowerPoint the prospect of preparing for and getting up and making a presentation to one's fellow humans was something that Joe Blow absolutely dreaded, and that was very frequently done so poorly that the typical audience dreaded being on the receiving end, too. PowerPoint changed all that. In the Old West the saying went that "God made man and Colt made men equal", in the corporate age PowerPoint made men and women equal... anyone could be an effective speaker, no talent needed just the intelligent use of a common technology item.

And then a shift in thinking happened. People who put the time and effort in to producing PowerPoint presentations that were effective began to receive requests from audience members of "hey, can I have your PowerPoint?" Consequently, after a while PowerPoint presentations were sent out via email attachments and then uploaded to the web. PowerPoint had become a publishing medium! Yes, what started out as a graphic organizer/presentation support had become a publishing format and medium, the upshot of which we are just now really beginning to see and understand.

Another GREAT EXAMPLE of this is the piece "shifthappens", originally a simple PowerPoint presentation. A basic Google search of shifthappens (at the moment ) turns up 3,750,000 hits. Imagine that, almost 4 million references easily found on the web for a single PowerPoint presentation! You can view, download, copy a link and the blog embedding code for shifthappens at digital media sharing sites like , which lists it as one of the most downloaded presentations there with more than 300,000 views and 7,500 "embeds" (bloggers who've embedded it in their blogs)!!! But this is just one of many media share sites that offer this piece. In fact shifthappens is available at YouTube (no big leap to go from a slideshow to a video!)... in a variety of versions. The downloads for these total roughly 4 million (at this moment). And those are just 2 of the almost 4 million links relating to this piece to be found through Google. It is probably impossible at this point to know accurately how many people have viewed shifthappens. Guttenberg's head would spin and spin.

The history of this piece is well worth a read of the Wiki Spaces entry on it which reveals the story in pieces... One is sent first out on a link to the blog The FischBowl ( ) which explains that this piece began as a motivational/informational presentation at a faculty conference at a typical American high school!!!

Below you'll find embedded one of the many versions now available. It is a remarkable piece, but its greatest significance (in this observer's opinion) is as an example of the very things it talks about - how technology has irrevocably changed the way people think and communicate and how unless this understanding is fully embraced by educators we are in serious paradigm trouble! Here's the 2.0 version>>>

No comments: