Category: PowerPoint

Dearer to us than a host of truths is an exalting illusion? EU Data Transfer Regulation after Schrems

Kuner & FennellyMy favourite Steve Jobs aphorism (and there are so many from which to choose) is

People who know what they’re talking about don’t need PowerPoint.

(see Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson (Simon and Schuster, 2011) 337). Last Thursday, Chris Kuner elevated this from apothegm to axiom, resoundingly proving the truth of that insight, by providing a masterclass in compelling presentation without resort to the crutch of powerpoint or similar slides. Chris is pictured above left, chatting with David Fennelly, before delivering a powerful lecture on “Reality and Illusion in EU Data Transfer Regulation” in the light of the decision of the Court of Justice of the European Union in Case C-362/14 Schrems v Data Protection Commissioner [2015] ECR I-nyr (Grand Chamber, 6 October 2015) to a rapt audience in Trinity College Dublin. He began with a quote from Chekov:

Dearer to us than a host of truths is an exalting illusion.

This is from Chekov’s short story “Gooseberries” (see Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky (tr) Selected Stories of Anton Chekov (Random House, 2009) 311 at 317), where the Nikolai is deluding himself that his gooseberries – actually “hard and sour” – are in fact the succulent and luscious fruit which he had always dreamed of growing. So it is, Chris argued, with EU regulation of trans-border data flows, which is at present an exalting illusion running up against a host of political realities.

In Schrems, the CJEU held that national data protection authorities [DPAs] could independently make decisions on the adequacy of data protection regimes in countries to which EU data is exported, notwithstanding a Commission decision on such adequacy, and that the Commission Safe Harbour decision on the adequacy of the US data protection regime was invalid. Four themes can be discerned in the judgment. First, there is a strong affirmation of the right to data protection under the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, building on the prior judgments in Joined Cases C-293/12 and C-594/12 Digital Rights Ireland and Seitlinger (Grand Chamber, 8 April 2014) [and Case C-131/12 Google Spain (Grand Chamber, 13 May 2014)]. Second, EU data protection standards – and in particular, the Charter – apply to transfers to third countries. Third, the CJEU elevated the role of independent national DPAs (especially as against the EU Commission) and empowered individuals to complain to such DPAs. And, fourth, the CJEU held that the “adequate level protection” of international transfers of data required by EU law is equivalent to the level of data protection provided by EU law – Chris stressed that “equivalent” here is not necessarily “identical”, but that this is still a high bar.

The impact of the CJEU decision in Schrems goes far beyond the context of the invalid safe harbour. Chris gave four examples. (more…)

Time to sabotage tedious medium of PowerPoint

From Lucy Kellaway’s Financial Times column (sub req’d) syndicated this morning by the Irish Times (with added links):

The Anti-PowerPoint Party has attempted to calculate the economic damage of gawping at all these slides and has concluded that Europe wastes €110 billion a year from people sitting through dull presentations.

I suspect the true figure is even worse, as this ignores the secondary effects. PowerPoint must be the least enjoyable way of wasting time there is; a heavy slideshow can leave one feeling grumpy and passive and in no frame of mind for proper work. …

The Anti-PowerPoint Party is hoping to fight PowerPoint through peaceful means; it wants lots of journalists to write articles just like this one. Even if lots do, I hold out little hope of success. The seminal, devastating article on the subject, “PowerPoint is Evil”, was written by Edward Tufte in 2003 and published in Wired. And what has happened since then? Nothing, except that PowerPoint has gone on getting bigger.


GallimaufryDr Johnson defined gallimaufry as

1. A hoch-poch …
2. Any inconsistent or ridiculous medley. …

Here’s a hoch-poch, or hotch-potch (though, of course, not a hotchpot) of links relevant to the themes of this blog that have caught my eye over the last while:

First, an Article 10 Right of Reply? considers the various routes to a legally enforceable right to reply to inaccurate information in the same medium where the original statements were published. In this post, Andrea Martin argued that such a development is neither necessary nor desirable, but that a voluntary scheme operated by broadcast media would have a lot to recommend it.

Second, the Irish judiciary has signalled support for setting up a judicial council, a development anticipated by the ICCL in 2007 which I welcomed at the time.

Third, Slate recently published No More Bullet Points, No More Clip Art (h/t Oisín, offline) arguing that “PowerPoint isn’t evil if you learn how to use it”. But so many people fail to learn how to use it that I have no doubt that my antipathy will continue.

Fourth, a story in the Independent on Plagiarism and PhDs: how to deal with copying says that it “may seem counter-intuitive but postgraduates are more likely to commit plagiarism than undergraduates”. Whether postgrads or undergrads – or of that matter, postdocs, lecturers or professors – we must all be on our guard against plagiarism in the academy.

Fifth, I have long been a strong supporter of open access to academic information, so I am heartened to learn that over 20% of the world’s scholarly journals now open access! (Kudos to DOAJ)

Sixth, Thinspiration: Still legal in the U.S.! picks up the proposed French legislation which I discussed in my post on incitement to anoxeria.

Seventh, the online challenge to traditional third-level education gathers pace: U of California Considers Online Classes, or Even Degrees the University of California “hope to put $5-million to $6-million into a pilot project that could clear the way for the system to offer online undergraduate degrees and push distance learning further into the mainstream …”

Eighth, a woman jailed by a Chicago judge for 2 days for wearing an offensive T-shirt to court recalls my post If t-shirts could talk …, discussing a similar Irish case and a more serious US example (there’s also an earlier Illinois example). Cohen v California 403 US 15 (1971) anyone?

Ignite PowerPoint

By way of update on Sliding into Oblivion and Ten Copyright Myths, and in the week when the Pentagon has come to believe that PowerPoint is damaging the US war effort in Iraq and Afgahnistan, here are two Ignite Dublin presentations on PowerPoint. First, Mark Congiusta on PowerPoint: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. (Just Kidding: There’s Nothing Good About PowerPoint) at Ignite Dublin #3:

Second, Rowan Manahan on If PowerPoint is the answer, it must have been a stupid question Ignite Dublin #4:

Bonus: for photos see this photo-stream (thanks to Loes van Mierlo).