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slide:ology by Nancy Duarte

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500
bce
Public Speaking
The Greeks pioneer the study and practice
of oratory and logography. Centuries later,
Ars Oratoria (the art of public speaking) is a
mark of professional competence in Rome,
especially among politicians and lawyers.
1350
ce
Bar Graphs
Bishop Nicole Oresme creates a “Proto-Bar
Graph” for plotting variables in a coordinate
system. Thankfully, he lacks distracting,
modern textures.
3000
bce
Egyptian Murals
Large, pictographic murals communicate
complex ideas to crowds of thousands.
Hieroglyphic symbols—functioning as both
representative images and phonetic
components—augment larger images to
blend visual and verbal communication.
950
ce
Stained Glass Windows
Before the printing press, the Roman
Catholic Church conveyed stories of saints
and biblical characters to a mostly
illiterate public through the colorful medium
of stained glass. The messages stick.
15000
bce
Cave Paintings
The 2,000 images found in the caves at
Lascaux, France narrate stories through
character, sequence, and motion. The oldest
evidence the world has of visual storytelling,
the paintings demonstrate early reliance on
using images to convey meaning.
1845
ce
Comic Strips
Swiss artist Rudolphe Töpffer develops the
forerunner to today’s modern comic strips:
he tells complete stories using frames that
contain both images and text.
xiv
Brief History of Visual Aids
Overhead Projector
Police begin using overhead projectors for
their identification work, quickly followed
by the military, educators,
and businesses.
1945
ce
35mm Slide Presentations
The 35mm slide projector enables
professionals to communicate ideas
sequentially to larger audiences. The
pioneering 35mm slide firm Genagraphics
charges from $300 to $1500 per
proprietary slide.
1950
ce
PowerPoint
The click heard ‘round the world:
PowerPoint 1.0 debuts for the Macintosh.
Suddenly everyone can design slides. Little
consideration is given to whether or not
this is a good idea.
1987
ce
Pervasive PC
PCs sit on every desktop in the workplace
and high-stakes business communications
evolve from printed documents to digital
presentations. The 35mm slide companies
go extinct almost overnight.
1992
ce
An Inconvenient Truth
Al Gore raises environmental consciousness,
wins an Academy Award, and receives the
Nobel Peace Prize for telling a compelling
story about climate change with little more
than a slide show.
2007
ce
Cognitive Style of PowerPoint
Edward Tufte authors “The Cognitive Style
of PowerPoint.” In it, he suggests that
PowerPoint impaired the quality of the
engineers' investigative analysis on the
Columbia Space Shuttle when it was gravely
impacted by debris.
2003
ce
xv
When you think of presentations, your immediate thoughts probably travel only as
far back as 1987the beginning of the PowerPoint era. If you broaden your perspec-
tive, you might recall an age of 35mm slides and flip chartsthe latter half of the
last century. And though the means and methods have changed over time, the mes-
sages by and large have not: you recount stories, present new information, strive to
change others’ minds. The world is wired for visual as well as verbal communication.
Don’t believe it? Consider this timeline:
Nearly all men can stand
adversity, but if you want
to test a man’s character,
give him power.
Abraham Lincoln

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