Renaming PowerPoint and which way for wild salmon?

downtown Portland

I walked out of the hotel in downtown Portland on the first day of the conference — see post from day one — sitting in a dim ballroom watching endless PowerPoint presentations with charts, graphs and models (and not the ones from Victoria Secret). Cursing PowerPoint, bullet points, and lamenting the “cut and paste” function… I looked up and saw this “sign” (photo above).

The red lights are very fitting, and the question is which way are the salmon only permitted to go?

In my marathon 15 hours of driving yesterday — leaving the Oregon coast at 9 a.m. and getting home to Prince George at midnight (I almost turned into a pumpkin) — I came up with a new name for PowerPoint:

Missing-the-Point

See with the fun of alliteration; Microsoft could get really creative with this… about as creative as their really awful “Windows 7… my idea” commercials.

Something like: “Microsoft… (majorly) Missing-the-Point…” (everyone’s using it… so it must be great).

I’ve got an idea… send PowerPoint down the same road as movie bombs like Ishtar… see, they share some similarities millions and millions of dollars to make and market; absolutely terrible to watch and endure.

Or… maybe just disable the bullet-making capabilities… tell people they can only use pictures, and they’re not allowed to look at the screen, while presenting… every time a presenter begins to read a giant block of text from a “slide” on the screen, they get zapped with an electrical shock. Maybe we could use those “hands-free” headsets for cell phones that have become the latest rage. Then the shock is delivered directly to the cranium…

I find some irony in academics using their slides as cheat sheets for their presentation… would they allow their students to do this in their classrooms?

Or the academics that have their allotted 15 minutes for the presentation and end out only making it half way through their presentation before time is up… again would this be permitted in their classrooms with students?

Here is an example from the conference… and apologies for the fuzzy picture, see even a camera can’t focus on this:

Slide hell

To be somewhat fair to the presenter I’ve cut him out. However, he did read most of this slide… (with a little paraphrasing…)

Now, I don’t raise these points to be cruel — and I recognize it is difficult and challenging to get up and speak in front of a room of 300 or so people.

But please for the love of ghad… along with hours upon hours of developing modeling equations, puzzling over graphs, and Bayesian, Freudian, Einstenien analysis; try and put some thoughts into representing your thoughts in a dynamic, interesting, and engaging fashion for as much of a cross section of an audience as possible. [Especially when they have paid to attend]

Sure the band AC/DC, or U2, or Michael Flatley (Lord of the Dance) only appeal to a certain cross section of folks — however they spend countless, countless hours puzzling over how to present their performances to appeal to as many people as possible.

Here is a cartoon from Hugh Macleod that highlights this nicely (albeit with some crudity thrown in to emphasize the point…)

www.gapingvoid.com

Ok, maybe scientists and Bono is not an overly fair comparison… but when it comes to salmon; folks get excited. I think I can safely say that a big reason people work with, for, and around salmon is because of love… fascination… curiosity… and sheer engagement with the subject matter — with this sleek, silver, slimy critter. With this fish that connects the power of the North Pacific with the heaven-reaching heights of the Rocky Mountains.

It is a truly remarkable species and the connection we humans have with it is dotted everywhere I drove on this trip…

Raymond, WA

Raymond, WA (salmon into thin air)

South Bend, WA

Dorymen's Association -- Pacific City, Oregon

a dwindling scene... Pacific City dories going out after salmon

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And you see the reason “everything is marketing” is — as recognized in the welcoming letter to this particular conference:

…Much of this debate has been limited to a small group of experts and practitioners. While public perception might be changing, I would hazard a guess that most of the public would not recognize a hatchery program as a potential risk to wild salmon.

Mr. Pete Rand, Senior Conservation Biologist and Conference Chair, State of the Salmon Program

I agree entirely with Pete on the limited nature of some of the discussion — e.g. limited to experts — however, I’m not sure I agree with the fact that the public doesn’t recognize the risks.

along the Salmon River, coastal Oregon

Here’s a photo on a tiny shop, ironically on the “Salmon River” in central Oregon just inland from Otis, on the way to Portland and Salem:

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What it comes down to is exactly as Macleod suggests: everything is marketing….

even the charts and graphs, modeling equations, and dimly lit ballroms with ‘experts’ debating the risks and/or benefits of salmon hatcheries…

Politicians enact legislation, the public elects politicians (in theory), politicians act on public will.

Public will comes from clever, clear, and compelling marketing…  there is already a deep set relationship with salmon — with settler and indigenous people alike — the marketing doesn’t even need to be that clever or compelling — but certainly clear.

Unfortunately, PowerPoint (aka Missing-the-Point) is not an important piece of that puzzle – at least not in utilizing it in the traditional sense.

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