Slideware usually creates poor slide-audience relationships.
If we ignore (or defy!) the templates provided with applications like PowerPoint, these applications can create
excellent, interesting, helpful slide-audience relationships that support what presenters are doing.
If we understand slideware in ways suggested by standard wisdom in other visual storytelling formats (like film and
comics), then we can begin to see slideware applications as viable new media tools.
Slideware may deserve to play a key role in your new media course.
Nancy Duarte (CEO of Duarte Design, with Al Gore and Steve Jobs among her clients).
• Slide:ology. O’Reilly, 2008.
• Duarte Design. <http://www.duarte.com/>.
• “Webinar: Creating Powerful Presentations with Nancy Duarte.” VizThink. 18 June 2008.
Seth Godin (Speaker, Writer, Marketing Expert; former VP of Direct Marketing for Yahoo!).
• “Really Bad PowerPoint (And How to Avoid It).” <http://www.sethgodin.com/freeprize/reallybad-1.pdf>.
Do You Zoom, 2001.
• Seth Godin’s Blog. <http://sethgodin.typepad.com/>.
Garr Reynolds (Associate Professor of Marketing at Kansai Gaidai University)
• Presentation Zen. New Riders, 2008.
• Garr Reynolds: Official Site. < http://www.garrreynolds.com/>. (See “Presentation Tips.”)
• Presentation Zen. Blog. < http://www.presentationzen.com/>. (See entries on “good PowerPoint design,” “The
Lessig Method,” “The Godin Method,” “The Kawasaki Method,” “The Takahashi Method,” “ignite” presentations,
and “pecha kucha” presentations.)
• “Authors@Google: Garr Reynolds.” 21 Mar. 2008. <http://www.youtube.com/ watch?v=DZ2vtQCESpk>.
• Reynolds’s user page at Slideshare: <http://www.slideshare.net/garr>.
Edward Tufte (Writer, Designer, Professor Emeritus at Yale)
• The Cognitive Style of PowerPoint: Pitching Out Corrupts Within. 2nd ed. Graphics Press, 2006.
• The Work of Edward Tufte and Graphics Press. < http://www.edwardtufte.com/tufte/>.
• Robert Gaskins. One of the co-creators of PowerPoint. <http://www.robertgaskins.com/>.
• John Sweller on the brain and bullet points. E.g., <http://tinyurl.com/2br363>.
• Don McMillan’s “Life After Death by PowerPoint.” Four minute stand-up comedy bit aimed at bad PowerPoint
• Peter Norvig’s “Gettysberg PowerPoint.” Google Director of Research shows how PowerPoint could have ruined
Lincoln’s speech. <http://norvig.com/Gettysburg/>.
• Daniel Radosh’s “PowerPoint Anthology of Literature.” Reduces well known literature to a few (bad) PowerPoint
Scott McCloud is the first name to know in comics theory.
• Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art. Harper, 1994.
• Official Site: <http://ScottMcCloud.com>.
• “Scott McCloud on Comics.” TED: Ideas Worth Spreading. Feb. 2005. <http://www.ted.com/talks/
See Also: For interesting collections of comics, see McSweeney’s Issue 13 and the Best American Comics series. Chris
Ware’s Jimmy Corrigan, a graphic novel, is a stunning (though very sad) introduction to comics storytelling.
Any typical classroom text for undergrad film studies will provide a good walkthrough of major cinematic concepts,
usually with plenty of current examples. Bordwell and Thompson’s Film Art is a standard. Richard Barsam’s Looking
at Movies comes with very, very helpful CD extras explaining key film concepts. For free, the Yale Film Analysis site
(http://classes.yale.edu/film-analysis/) offers a brief but useful overview.
Relationship + Concept + Sequence
Roland Barthes: Anchorage and Relay
Film: The Kuleshov Effect
Comics: Sequential Art, Closure, Transitions
1. It’s easy to learn and use, and many students already know something about how to use it.
2. If savvy arranging and re-arranging of sequences of images is the key element of visual poetics and
storytelling (as film studies and comics theory suggest), then the slide sorter is a convenient place to
practice crucial sequencing skills.
3. MS PowerPoint is so often misused, and so many students are so aware that slideshows tend to be poor
communication, that many of them will be relieved to know that it’s possible to do an effective visually-
backed presentation. (They might even realize they’re learning something practical.)
4. If we ban the standard templates, then slide design is a good way for students to demonstrate their
grasp of basic graphic design principles.
5. Some still-image and slide sequencing assignments with potential:
a. Ask students to shoot and then present a series of images that mean one thing arranged one way
and another thing arranged another way. This could be an abstract exercise (as in Imagist
poetry), or it could be a less poetic exercise where the same set of images tells two different
b. Ask students to take a slideshow they’ve created in another situation and improve it using the
guidelines suggested by writers like Reynolds, Duarte, and Godin.
c. Ask students to use image sequencing tricks-of-the-trade from comics and film (McCloud’s six
transitions, the Kuleshov effect, other elements of film art) to explain a concept or a series of
concepts. (You could add an interesting dimension to the assignment by asking students to use
a method like “pecha kucha” or “ignite.” Garr Reynolds looks at both formats on his blog, and a
Google search will yield plenty of information about them.)
d. Ask students to create a podcast to go with their slide presentations and then to post (and sync)
the presentations and audio online using Slideshare.net.
e. Require that students be able to write analytically about the kinds of transitions and image
arrangements they’re using, taking advantage of language from Barthes, film studies, and/or
Fred Johnson • Whitworth University • firstname.lastname@example.org • http://abjohnson.net
Presentation Links Online: http://abjohnson.net/presentations/badppt.html