Last night I had a discussion in a local Starbucks with a very bright university professor and expert teacher about about all the "bad PowerPoint" presentations she sees both here in Japan and throughout the world. I agreed, of course, that we live in a kind of sick "PowerPoint culture," but that PPT is, after all, just a tool. Tools can be used for good or evil. The professor, however, said that PowerPoint is not simply a benign tool, it is in fact a bad tool that is at least partially responsible for why very smart people do very horrible things with PowerPoint software. (She was sounding a bit like Tufte — is PowerPoint evil?)
I said PPT is like a car. A car is a very dangerous thing without (1) proper knowledge on how (and even when) to use it, and (2) proper instruction from a pro, and (3) plenty of practice actually using it. Would she attack the automobiles or would she blame poor driving, poor maintenance, and human error and stupidity (as in "road rage")? But the professor said no. PowerPoint is inherently more dangerous than that (in the context of presentation design). I do not think we came up with an agreeable analogy.
Is not PPT something like a set of sharp knives? Knives are very useful things for cooking, for example, but can indeed be used for evil. Chopping, slicing, dicing with sharp, professional knives also needs some instruction from an experienced chef. In the hands of amateurs, knives are quite dangerous. In a similar way, PowerPoint in the hands of inexperienced presenters also has undesirable consequences.
Have any better analogies or similes for Powerpoint?