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Map Shock

I use Powerpoint much more than I would like to and I find Cliff Atkinson's "Beyond Bullets" blog one of the best sources for information about what makes a good presentation. But a recent article on visual complexity ended up giving me an unintentional shock. The general point is that overly complex graphics or maps can cause people to go into a sort of mental shutdown (actually I wouldn't call it a shutdown. I'm guessing people are either busy trying to find the starting point or are dismissing the content entirely).

I read the blog entry which led me to the interview which led me to the recommended websites which purportedly have information about this subject and BOOM. My head exploded. No wonder these people have found this phenomenon. Their websites (here and here)are incredibly bad. I almost started to think it was an elaborate joke, but we are months away from April.

Anyway, the one thing I got out of reading this is that it is important to provide a starting point for entering into a subject. As much as I hate animation, it can allow you to have a very simple diagram which then becomes more complicated as you narrate your way through it. Just don't go overboard with gratuitous animation and objects flying around. I confine myself to fade in/out.

Oh, and the other thing. If you see a problem occuring frequently around you, there is a non-zero chance that YOU are the cause.



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