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clip art and culture


October 31, 1999: This message was distributed by Papyrus News, a free e-mail distribution list on the global impact of information technology on language, literacy, and education. Feel free to forward this message to others, but please include this introductory paragraph. For information on subscribing or unsubscribing to Papyrus News see


I just attended the first national conference of EgypTesol (Egypt Teachers of English to Speakers of other Languages). The conference was a great success with more than 1000 participants. One highlight of the conference was an "Electronic Oasis" with a half dozen computers where teachers gave some 36 mini-demonstrations about different aspects of computers and language teaching.

One thing I noticed from the presentations at the conference (not just in the Electronic Oasis, but also from the regular conference presentations) is that Egyptian educators *love* PowerPoint. I know this is not unique to Egypt; presentation software is getting popular all over the world. What I also noticed -- and again, this is not unique to Egypt -- is that more and more people are using images in PowerPoint presentations, especially clip art. This is partly due to the increased availability of clip art, the ease of its use in multimedia computing, the availability of more powerful computers, etc. But, I'm also wondering if there's a cultural dimension: do certain cultures more enthusiastically create, use, and display multimedia?

If you have any thoughts on the increased use of images in presentations around the world, or on the relationship of multimedia to culture, let me know. By the way, here are two interesting books on integration of visuals and texts.

Kress, G., & van Leeuwen, T. (1996). Reading images: The grammar of visual design. London: Routledge.

Horn, R. E. (1998). Visual language: Global communication for the 21st century. Bainbridge Island, WA: MacroVU (

Mark Warschauer

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Last updated: November 1, 1999