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Re: The Cognitive Style of PowerPoint

cognitive power of powerpoint
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/ Sean McGrath <sean.mcgrath@p...> was heard to say:
| One of the fascinating things about the XML world is that XML
| programmers work with highly structured text - computer programs.
| I think it is interesting that they predominantly use text editors
| (emacs, vi etc.) in their work. I.e. *non structured* editing tools.
| The same people, by and large, think that authors/editors *should* use
| structured editing tools. An interesting juxtaposition of goose and
| gander.

I think it's an information density issue. Or a density issue, anyway.
My relationship to markup is personal: I need to see all the
information it conveys and I'm entirely comfortable decoding the
markup in my head. (Maybe this is like decoding the Matrix in your
head, I dunno :-)

So, in a previous life, I worked for a company that made a superb
structured editing tool. I only ever used it in fully "tags on" mode,
so I saw all the structure[*].

A structured editing tool is *great* for XML, but most of the
structured editors I've seen think they're doing you some sort of
favor by hiding the markup. To me, that's like hiding the punctuation.
Sure, lines of text and spaces unbroken by all those pesky periods and
commas would be simpler by some metric of simplicity, but they
wouldn't be easier (for me) to understand.

Most users coming to structured editing for the first time find all
the markup, if not frightening, then at least distracting. So
recommending that they use a structured editing tool that hides
complexity makes sense. I don't really see it as a goose/gander issue
as long as the tool you're recommending has the power to grow with

To keep this on topic, I'll point out that I've never touched
PowerPoint or Impress or any of those other tools with a ten foot
pole, but I still, in retrospect, create bad slideware. Lots of
bullets. I'll have to think about that.

                                        Be seeing you,

[*] As a funny side-effect of this behavior, I would sometimes find
myself in front of customers asked by the marketing or sales person
close at hand to "turn off all the tags". Sometimes I could remember
how to do that, but I could hardly use the editor in that mode. It
seems funny now, but it was stressful then. I think sales eventually
figured out that they needed to be selective about which clients I
gave demos to :-)

- -- 
Norman Walsh <ndw@n...> | No man is exempt from saying silly
http://nwalsh.com/            | things; the mischief is to say them
                              | deliberately.--Michel de Montaigne
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