Darren Barefoot
Darren Barefoot


Thinking Chaos, Thinking Fences

This is for those who descend into the code
and make their room a fridge for Superman

Saturday, May 24, 2003

PowerPoint has a lot to answer for. I think it's been responsible for the dumbing-down of public speaking the world over. Instead of writing a speech, people make a PowerPoint file and then muddle their way through the presentation. I've heard of companies that have outlawed PowerPoint because it's such a time-suck and tend to encourage laziness and shorthand. Why bother articulating and talking out an issue if you've got an animated graph?

Edward Tufte apparently agress with me. I wanted to buy The Cognitive Style of PowerPoint, but instead of paying for it and downloading the thing, I've got wait for the snail mail version, and then pay another freakin' US $20 (on top of the entirely fair US $7 sticker price) to get it shipped by airmail to Canada.

I also thought this result from Google was pretty illustrative of my point.

4:22:30 PM    

While driving (the only time I listen to the radio) and listening to the CBC on Friday, I heard the tail end of an interview with one Melanie Little. She's a writer whose first book of short stories is just coming out. Like my wife Julie, she's a former figure skater and writes about it in this book. As the CBC is want to do, they created a little contest (scroll down about a third of the way down the page) to win her book:

We have two copies of Melanie Little's "Confidence" to give away, in exchange for a story about figure skating. So, if you were a figure skater, or were the brother, sister, mother, father of a figure skater, write to us at roundup@vancouver.cbc.ca. with your story - whatever it may be.

So, being a loyal Canadian, I sent in the following storylet:

When we moved to Ireland two years ago, we foolishly brought our ice skates. My wife Julie was a former competitive figure skater and had been coaching in Vancouver for several years. There'd be no plying her trade in Ireland, though. There were no skating arenas in the country.
Last winter, though, an enterprising Dubliner built a tiny open air skating rink in the old horse market square. Blowing the dust off our skates, we walked over to give it a try. The rink was miniscule, swampy and packed with inept skaters of all ages. It was apparent that most of them had never skated before, so the crashes were frequent and dramatic. The situation wasn't helped by the hordes of 'gurriers'--local, mischievous boys--who flew around the rink with abandon.
Once she warmed up, Julie skated to the center of the busy arena to practice a few jumps and spins. From the first double lutz the skaters were rapt. The number of falls tripled as people tried to simultaneously watch her and stay upright. A group of preteen girls swarmed around her, asking if she was famous, or Russian, or both. She was neither, of course, but for that night, she was probably the best skater in Ireland.
A couple of footnotes:

  • There's a burgeoning hockey and figure skating community in Northern Ireland. They've got a hockey team (the Belfast Knights, peopled mostly by Canadians).  
  • Ironically, despite the lack of rinks, there is an Irish Ice Hockey Association (don't miss their cool jerseys). They're apparently lobbying for a new, permanent arena in Dublin.

4:16:21 PM    

© Copyright 2003 Darren Barefoot.



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