Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

We Have Met the Enemy and He Is PowerPoint [“PowerPoint makes us stupid,” Gen. James N. Mattis...]
New York Times ^

Posted on 04/27/2010 7:51:04 AM PDT by Sub-Driver

We Have Met the Enemy and He Is PowerPoint By ELISABETH BUMILLER

WASHINGTON — Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, the leader of American and NATO forces in Afghanistan, was shown a PowerPoint slide in Kabul last summer that was meant to portray the complexity of American military strategy, but looked more like a bowl of spaghetti.

“When we understand that slide, we’ll have won the war,” General McChrystal dryly remarked, one of his advisers recalled, as the room erupted in laughter.

The slide has since bounced around the Internet as an example of a military tool that has spun out of control. Like an insurgency, PowerPoint has crept into the daily lives of military commanders and reached the level of near obsession. The amount of time expended on PowerPoint, the Microsoft presentation program of computer-generated charts, graphs and bullet points, has made it a running joke in the Pentagon and in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“PowerPoint makes us stupid,” Gen. James N. Mattis of the Marine Corps, the Joint Forces commander, said this month at a military conference in North Carolina. (He spoke without PowerPoint.) Brig. Gen. H. R. McMaster, who banned PowerPoint presentations when he led the successful effort to secure the northern Iraqi city of Tal Afar in 2005, followed up at the same conference by likening PowerPoint to an internal threat.

“It’s dangerous because it can create the illusion of understanding and the illusion of control,” General McMaster said in a telephone interview afterward. “Some problems in the world are not bullet-izable.”

(Excerpt) Read more at nytimes.com ...


TOPICS: Culture/Society; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: powerpoint
Amen to that...........
1 posted on 04/27/2010 7:51:04 AM PDT by Sub-Driver
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: Sub-Driver

http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/11.09/ppt2.html

“Powerpoint is Evil” by Edward Tufte

If anyone understands the visual display of information, it’s Tufte.


2 posted on 04/27/2010 7:53:59 AM PDT by ClearCase_guy
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Sub-Driver

PowerPoint is an effective tool if used properly.

The problem is, most don’t.


3 posted on 04/27/2010 7:56:13 AM PDT by TSgt (We will always be prepared, so we may always be free. - Ronald Reagan)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: TSgt

I use programs that turn Powerpoints to DVD’s. People love them!


4 posted on 04/27/2010 7:58:25 AM PDT by cameraeye (A happy kufir!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: Sub-Driver

We used to call it “Death by PowerPoint” in the Navy and that was 5 years ago. I imagine it’s gotten horrible.


5 posted on 04/27/2010 7:59:22 AM PDT by neodad (USS Vincennes (CG 49) "Freedom's Fortress")
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: ClearCase_guy

Have you ever seen Tufte brief? I haven’t but I’ve heard that he uses OTHER tools the same as one might use PowerPoint. So I’d remind folks... that guns don’t kill, people do.


6 posted on 04/27/2010 8:05:09 AM PDT by rhombus
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: Sub-Driver
Power Point evil? Oh PuhLEEEZE!

This is precisely the same thought process which leads to the false conclusion that guns are evil.

PowerPoint is a tool. Before PP, it was an overhead projector, or a chalkboard, or a big pad of paper on an easel. None of those tools "make us stupid."

Place the blame where it belongs. The creator of bad PowerPoint presentations may deserve criticism, derision or maybe just better training and instruction on making good presentations.

Neither Microsoft nor that particular installation of PowerPoint created the hated "spaghetti bowl" slide. It was a person. And people are responsible for their actions. Their tools are not.

It's a bit disturbing to me that some of our top commanders are ready to blame the tool for a poor result rather than its user.

7 posted on 04/27/2010 8:06:13 AM PDT by TChris ("Hello", the politician lied.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Sub-Driver
You don't win wars by doing PowerPoint slides for your country.

You win wars by making the other poor dumb son-of-a-bitch do PowerPoint slides for his country.

Garde la Foi, mes amis! Nous nous sommes les sauveurs de la République! Maintenant et Toujours!
(Keep the Faith, my friends! We are the saviors of the Republic! Now and Forever!)

LonePalm, le Républicain du verre cassé (The Broken Glass Republican)

8 posted on 04/27/2010 8:13:08 AM PDT by LonePalm (Commander and Chef)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: TSgt

True dat. I fell in love with Keynote years ago. Thankfully I can export my slick slides to Powerpoint and tell everyone I made them in Powerpoint while they scratch their heads and hang their jaws in awe. ;)


9 posted on 04/27/2010 8:14:16 AM PDT by lefty-lie-spy (Stay metal. For the Horde \m/("_")\m/ - via iPhone from Tokyo.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: Sub-Driver

PowerPoint is a lot like PBS and talk radio.
2 minutes of information stretched into an hour show.


10 posted on 04/27/2010 8:15:47 AM PDT by astyanax (Liberalism: Logic's retarded cousin.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Sub-Driver

I HATE Powerpoint, but I am forced to teach it AUGH!!!!!!


11 posted on 04/27/2010 8:16:02 AM PDT by KosmicKitty (WARNING: Hormonally crazed woman ahead!!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Sub-Driver
The Gettysburg Powerpoint Presentation - 11/19/1863
12 posted on 04/27/2010 8:17:32 AM PDT by B Knotts (Impeach Obama)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: TChris
The problem is with low ability briefer thinking a PP will take the place of knowing their subject matter inside out and backwards. The same was true with dummies using maps with overlays trying to brief commanders.

Most Flag Officers know when the briefer is covering for lack of knowledge.

PP is an excellent tool to help the briefer remember to brief the bulleted points. It's an aid for the briefer, that's all.

13 posted on 04/27/2010 8:18:37 AM PDT by ASA Vet (Iran should have ceased to exist Nov 5, 1979, but we had no president then either.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 7 | View Replies]

To: TSgt
That is exactly right. I do Keynote and Powerpoint presentations for the university I'm at to market our IT services to students and faculty. If you use templates, video, alignment grids, etc., you can make very effective presentations. Unfortunately, I'm in the very small minority as most presentations I see from faculty, staff, and students consist of things like red text on a black background, nothing is aligned, images that have nothing to do with the subject. etc.. . We call it Powerpoint Poisoning...
14 posted on 04/27/2010 8:18:38 AM PDT by aegiscg47
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: Sub-Driver

When you have nothing to say.....say it with Power Point!


15 posted on 04/27/2010 8:20:33 AM PDT by occamrzr06
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: ClearCase_guy

Venture capitalist Guy Kawasaki had to endure too many inept PPT presentations so he came up with his 10-20-30 rule: 10 slides in 20 minutes using 30 point fonts.

Link to his blog post: http://blog.guykawasaki.com/2005/12/the_102030_rule.html#axzz0mJYpUUpX


16 posted on 04/27/2010 8:24:55 AM PDT by T-Bird45 (It feels like the seventies, and it shouldn't.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: occamrzr06
When you have nothing to say.....say it with Power Point!

How many people speak meaningless words, or write them? Shall we ridicule speech or writing for their foolishness?

The problem, as always, is people.

17 posted on 04/27/2010 8:26:53 AM PDT by TChris ("Hello", the politician lied.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 15 | View Replies]

To: ClearCase_guy

I agree with him. Instead of being an effective tool; people are using it to create illusions and dumb from school children to us down.


18 posted on 04/27/2010 8:33:00 AM PDT by freekitty (Give me back my conservative vote; then find me a real conservative to vote for)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: Sub-Driver
Very simple rule. . .never put anything on a slide that you don't specifically mention in your presentation. If you must use a graph or chart. . .build it incrementally in concert with what you are talking about. Use "sans serif" fonts like Arial, Arial black and not Times New Roman. Another rule, the audience looks at you and only looks to the screen when you look to the screen. . .one more. . .back screening is best so that you can stand near the screen (there is a reason the weatherman stands in front of the weathermap). . .the worst is when the speaker is on stage left and the screen is on stage right.. . .just a few ideas that help to make pp work better.
19 posted on 04/27/2010 8:40:21 AM PDT by McBuff
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Sub-Driver

Commander s LOVE slides. In the day we used basic overhead projectors and commanders couldn’t get enough slides. They use PowerPoint today and the abuses of superficial information has grown.


20 posted on 04/27/2010 8:58:23 AM PDT by CodeToad
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Sub-Driver
If your doing a presentation with power point.....it is not the presentation....The presentation needs to stand on it own merit

I view Power Point as the notes I would take (and hope you would take) if I were viewing that presentation.... nothing more

That way you audience in engaged with you and not busy taking notes...

And that also why you give them a printed copy before you start, so that can make their own additional notes on the slides

21 posted on 04/27/2010 8:58:30 AM PDT by tophat9000 (It ain't about Black... It ain't about White...It's about a Red...Trying to take our rights!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Sub-Driver
If your doing a presentation with power point.....it is not the presentation....The presentation needs to stand on it own merit

I view Power Point as the notes I would take (and hope you would take) if I were viewing that presentation.... nothing more

That way you audience in engaged with you and not busy taking notes...

And that also why you give them a printed copy before you start, so that can make their own additional notes on the slides

Or even simpler...Power Point is what you would put on the chalk board or white board

22 posted on 04/27/2010 9:01:59 AM PDT by tophat9000 (It ain't about Black... It ain't about White...It's about a Red...Trying to take our rights!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Sub-Driver

Specifically mentioned in the Columbia report is a PowerPoint slide used by the Engineers briefing the foam strike. Due to the amount of information and the poor presentation it minimized the potential danger. Also, in the report, NASA provided what were supoosed to be “engineering reports” in a PP format to the investigating board, absent any data and actual scientific method. Used correctly I guess it can be effective, I just need someone to tell me what “correctly” is. (IMHO)


23 posted on 04/27/2010 9:34:21 AM PDT by Sursam Abordine
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Sub-Driver

Interesting for a general to say, “Some problems in the world are not bullet-izable.” Bring in the heavy artillery?


24 posted on 04/27/2010 9:44:13 AM PDT by drubyfive
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Sub-Driver

I have to agree. The skills of presentation, particularly in the text area, have really deteriorated over the years.

I don’t hate Powerpoint but I do use it sparingly.


25 posted on 04/27/2010 10:26:24 AM PDT by texmexis best (My)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: texmexis best



26 posted on 04/27/2010 12:08:52 PM PDT by Scythian
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 25 | View Replies]

To: Sub-Driver; rdb3; Calvinist_Dark_Lord; GodGunsandGuts; CyberCowboy777; Salo; Bobsat; JosephW; ...

27 posted on 04/27/2010 12:09:21 PM PDT by ShadowAce (Linux -- The Ultimate Windows Service Pack)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Sub-Driver
Sounds as if the military is finally driving a wooden stake through the heart of the corpse of Robert McNamara.
28 posted on 04/27/2010 12:55:12 PM PDT by Calvinist_Dark_Lord ((I have come here to kick @$$ and chew bubblegum...and I'm all outta bubblegum! ~Roddy Piper))
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: ClearCase_guy
If anyone understands the visual display of information, it’s Tufte.

I second that. Tufte does a traveling one-day seminar that I attended a few years back, and he packed the hall.

He did a brisk business selling his wares to his nerd groupies, such as myself. He autographed my copy of Minard's graphic of Napoleon's losses during the Russian campaign of 1812.

29 posted on 04/27/2010 1:00:15 PM PDT by NewMexLurker
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: ShadowAce


I wanna be a POWER POINT RAN-GER....
30 posted on 04/27/2010 1:16:08 PM PDT by MikefromOhio (There is no truth to the rumor that Ted Kennedy was buried at sea.....)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 27 | View Replies]

To: Sub-Driver; Tijeras_Slim

31 posted on 04/27/2010 1:43:39 PM PDT by martin_fierro (< |:)~)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: TSgt

Same goes for word, excel, and a lot of others. Too many people use these programs to compose documents that at first glance look sharp, but contain little real information. This is because most people get distracted by the formatting and neglect the writing. In most cases more information could be conveyed if people used just a text editor with a fixed width font and ascii graphics.


32 posted on 04/27/2010 3:21:07 PM PDT by beef (Who Killed Kennewick Man?)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: T-Bird45

Excellent!


33 posted on 04/28/2010 11:33:23 AM PDT by AdmSmith
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 16 | View Replies]

To: LonePalm

OK, that was funny.


34 posted on 05/17/2010 7:11:53 PM PDT by El Sordo (The bigger the government, the smaller the citizen.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 8 | View Replies]

To: Sub-Driver
Powerpoint comes from the depths of Hell itself!


35 posted on 05/17/2010 7:17:14 PM PDT by uglybiker (BACON!!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794
FreeRepublic.com is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson