Years ago when I held a *real* job, I had to deal with a MS application that I hated with a passion. Widely used by corporate types, bankers, consultants and techies alike, it has become ubiquitous in the *real* world. Yes I am referring to powerpoint, a piece of software that, to me, is the strongest piece of evidence that Bill Gates plans to take over the world through mind control -by making us stupid and by diminishing our mental abilities till we are capable of digesting only pre-processed information fed to our feeble brains in the form of pictures, charts and five bullet point slides.
So you can understand that much happiness happened when I discovered powerpoint is rarely used in my current professional community. I thought, and rather self importantly too, that it had something to do with the (supposedly) intellectual nature of my profession. After all, I reasoned, if intellect is a significant determinant of your success, you are hardly likely to be interested in reducing complex analyses to bite-sized bits of information.
Recently, something occured that challenged this notion of mine, and has led me to believe that *ahem* information asymmetry, rather that intellectual pride, could be the reason for not seeing too much powerpointing around here.
It all started because some research of mine involved a lot of collaborative interaction with a corporate entity. This required me to discuss the findings with both individuals from the entity (lets call them, without any pejorative intent, the 'duhs') and my colleagues (the 'blahs') in two separate presentations.
I prepared two distinct documents for the meetings. The first one, done as all respectable blah documents are done, was prepared using LaTex. It looked something like the schematic to the left. All the intricacies of both the formulation and the analysis laid bare open for the sake of blah peer review!
I spent a few hours and Latexed like i had never Latexed before, discovering new .sty files and packages and writing new \define statements with impunity, all the while boldly going where few blahs had gone before. I was happy with myself at the end of it.
The other document was meant for the duhs. It looked something like this image here to the right, and i need say nothing more than that a picture is worth a thousand words (and that phrase applies here twice, if you get my drift.)
Needless to say, there was a mixup, and it was copies of this document that were sent across to the blahs. On the day of the presentation, I arrived, armed with the original document, and started the talk, when I noticed disappointed looks from the audience.
"Your handouts don't match your slides", a senior blah in the audience complained.
Realizing the error, I started apologizing furiously, when I was interrupted with a, "Don't apologize, we'd rather have the handouts than what you are presenting", from another senior blah.
"How exactly *did* you do this?"
"Er... Powerpoint", I said meekly.
"You can *do* all these things in Powerpoint? I didnt know it was so powerful. It looks very impressive. What do all of you think?"-he looked around quizzically.
I looked around and realized that all the blahs in the room was nodding their heads. I could barely suppress a groan.