Friday, March 04, 2011

Questioning the archaic...

We had a debate in our office the other day as to the proper use of spacing after a fullstop. Some of my colleagues insisted that double spacing after a fullstop was the proper way to type whilst others insisted on single spacing. A couple of opinion polls later, I started checking some style manuals and the opinion of the typographers. The jury is not out on this anymore - If you type on a modern computer, single space is what you should use.

Apparently people who type two spaces, were taught by people who were taught by people who learned to type on typewriters that only allowed monospacing - i.e. an "l" and an "m", despite being different in size, was given the same amount of space, because typewriters couldn't work differently. This resulted in lots of white space in the middle of words, hence the need for double spacing between senences. With the introduction of computers, almost all texts are now created in proportional fonts - so the narrower characters take less space, and you don't need a double space after a full stop.

But this got me thinking - How much of what we do as evaluators and researchers do we do just because we were taught by people who had to make use of old archaic technology to get the job done? I mean, think about it - Why do we still insist that the primary output from an evaluation should be a report? Or... hold on to your seat... a PowerPoint presentation?

If use of evaluations (or information) depends on the degree to which the findings are communicated concisely, then we should be building our communications capability and get creative. If you look at the capabilities that simple Mac Software like Keynote offers (and I'm no expert) then really! There is so much more that we should be doing

I share with you three examples of what I would like to see more of:

Hans Roslin inspires with visualization of statistics (This guy rocks!):

This "Story of Stuff" clip combines presentation, story telling and animation in really interesting ways

And Here is how a normal presentation with some voice can help to get the message across, a lot better than just a PowerPoint presentation

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