Microsoft PowerPoint

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The Jolly Contrarian’s Glossary
Talk to my slide, Yo

The snippy guide to financial services lingo.™
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Microsoft PowerPoint is an application for fools, blaggers and dilettantes. Sensible people have no truck with it.

No novel , no play, no acerbic letter — no creative thought of any substance in history— ever first put its squealing voice in the cupped ear of the world only but for the ministrations of PowerPoint.

PowerPoint is the market-standard software package for dressing up fatuous ideas with profundity. In the grand scheme of western commerce, that means it is a very, very important application indeed. One uses it to generate “decks” — animated presentations of “content”, arranged on “slides” — which promise much and deliver nothing to powerless subordinates and guileless superiors. The very idea is to overawe or baffle an audience into believing you have something useful to add to the organisation.

PowerPoint can create pervasive collective delusions: in the hands of a gifted middle manager, PowerPoint can turn base metal into fool’s gold.

But you knew that already. More interesting is PowerPoint’s central role in the development of the modern business dialect, management speak. PowerPoint’s linguistic foundation comprises not just the traditional Roman alphabet but a supplemental lexicon of wingdings, pull-outs, bullets and animated transitions through which one can communicate in ways previously alien to the Indo-European tradition. This makes management speak a sort of base sixteen to ordinary English’s decimal; an illegitimate off-spring of our historical linguistic traditions and perhaps the first genuinely new dialect to emerge since Latin five thousand years ago.

Adeptness at PowerPoint, the willingness to tinker around to get snappy slide transitions and the like, is a core skill of an aspiring middle manager (and a quick way to pick up the fundamental syntax of this new idiom).

See also