My youngest daughter has recently started using PowerPoint at school and set herself a project of making a newspaper in it. She asked members of the family for contributions and my mum and dad went crazy (yeah, they’re retired) and wrote half a dozen articles. They haven’t got PowerPoint so they used Presentation and emailed their pieces over to me as an OpenDocument file.

I wasn’t surprised that PowerPoint warned there might be problems opening it as I’ve seen similar things with Word. (My dad sends me all of his tech support questions as documents created in Writer …) So when it showed up as a single slide with masses of text, it was no big deal.

I told Dad and got an email back the following day saying he’d been trying desperately to get it onto multiple slides but to no avail. Perhaps I hadn’t explained well enough that I thought it was PowerPoint that had corrupted his content. But if it hadn’t started as one slide, what was he doing?

I called him up. It turns out that his mental model of how Presentation worked was that it was essentially a word processor and when he got to the bottom of a “page” a new “page” would be started for him.

Yes, of course! Why not?

I find it delightful, revealing and humbling to get a glimpse inside the head of a user with a perspective so different from my own. Although on the positive side, I guess one day it’ll be my head too.
Image: Jimmy and Granddad