The Tyranny of PowerPoint

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I’ve reached the end of my template. I’m bored stupid with PowerPoint. Various people have said they are now using Keynote, but this seems like a similar punishment. Interestingly, I did a speech in Brussels a while back and didn’t use anything. Neither did the two speakers before me.

The problem is twofold. With PowerPoint the audience has to make a choice between reading the slides and listening to the speaker. You cannot properly do both. For the speaker the issue is between following the audience and the slides. More problematically, when you are writing a PowerPoint presentation the logic of your argument is fragmented by the need to switch from one slide to another.

Contrast this to writing something with word (or whatever). If all you have is a blank screen or a white sheet of paper you are forced to think about what it is you are trying to say and you tend you end up with a single idea or argument that flows across the page and even onto the next page without interruption.

Why have I suddenly thought about this? Because I’ve recently done a couple of lectures using Power Point and it was fairly obvious that the audiences were not listening. This was probably a good thing because I wasn’t paying much attention either. Power Point is too easy and as a result you become lazy.

Death to Power Point.

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The Architecture of Ideas


I’ve written extensively about how physical spaces influence thinking (e.g. Future Minds, Fast Company etc.), but I didn’t realise until recently just how much research there was on this. For example, Joan Meyers-Levy and Juliet Zhu, two Profs at the University of Minnesota, ran a study that found that high ceilings activated abstract thinking and thoughts of freedom, whereas low ceilings activated concrete thinking and thoughts of confinement. In other words, high ceilings are good for inspiration and big idea generation whereas low ceilings are good for small detail and implementation.

A further twist on this is the idea of cells, hives, dens and clubs espoused by Francis Duffy at DEGW architects. The basic idea here is that hive offices suit routine or low level process work with low levels of social mixing and autonomy, cell offices facilitate focused brain work with little social interaction, den-type offices suit team work and club offices do a little bit of everything.

This possibly explains why my solitary home office is useful for some tasks, my busy boat office for other tasks and the manic café best for something else.


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Future Library


I do love this. A Future Library project, created by a Scottish artist called Katie Paterson, has started with the planting of 1,000 trees just outside Oslo in Norway. They will slowly grow and while they do a writer will be invited to contribute a text to the collection each year – for the next 100 years! In the year 2114 the trees will be cut down and will be used to create the paper for the books.

I especially (and obviously) like the idea that someone else thinks that paper will endure another 100 years and also the thought that some of the writers that will contribute works haven’t been born yet.

Some links here with the Clock of the Long Now. Also links with a story (probably untrue) about an New College Oxford planting some oak trees 500 years in advance.

Artist website for future library  here.

Article on future library  here.

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Some great statistics

7 Numbers(1)

Just playing with some numbers!

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Typewriters vs. Computers

I like this (from Ryan Adams, the songwriter/musician).

“Your critical mind is an interrupter of your inspired true self. If you are daydreaming and you are in that zone, you have the 300-mile gaze, stuff is coming through, it’s like a scroll. It’s like dictation, it’s an act of faith, it’s like letting myself feel it. On a typewriter, it’s below chest level; you are looking through and beyond the dimension of the page.

On a computer, you will never not look at the screen. You will always follow the cursor. It’s a trap. You are a cat and your computer is a f—ing laser pointer, and you are just following your own trial.”

Daily Telegraph 4 September 2014 (page 25)

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Future of travel

Don’t think I ever published this!

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Nothing. Zip. Zilch.

Nothing to say apart from a rant about the battery life of iPhones and the near useless nature of Apple customer support, which I’ll avoid.

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Emerging Technology Timeline



Just had two portrait versions of the tech timeline added. One is neon out of black (above) the other has a white background. Get in touch if you want high-resolution printable versions or A3 paper copies.

Posted in Maps, Technology Foresignt | 5 Comments

Quote of the week

“And it occurred to me that in this new millennial life of instant and ubiquitous connection, you don’t in fact communicate as much as leave messages for one another” Chang-Rae Lee

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Apologies, no idea where the above image is from. Found it on an old computer.


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Ageing and the NHS

It’s not often that you’re in the car and have to pull over to write something down that you’ve just heard on the radio. A few days ago I did exactly this because someone said that a King’s Fund study had said that the average age of a patient in NHS hospitals in the UK was 80. Moreover, 2 out of 3 admissions are for people aged 65+

More here.

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