Tuesday, April 27, 2010

A Critique of Microsoft PowerPoint, or Freudian Slip?

As it turns out, even the Executive Branch of the US government has a hard time with PowerPoint presentations, the New York Times reports:
"The program, which first went on sale in 1987 and was acquired by Microsoft soon afterward, is deeply embedded in a military culture that has come to rely on PowerPoint’s hierarchical ordering of a confused world."
The military apparently uses poorly designed PowerPoint presentations so often that some officials are banning reductionistic bullet-pointing as an "internal threat." We've all seen enough PowerPoint faux pas in our lives to know what they mean: hideous slide layouts, nauseating animations, speakers putting whole chapters on one slide and lifelessly reading off of them, etc. Perhaps everyone should witness Lawrence Lessig's brilliant minimal slide designs-- now that guy knows the power of a slide show.

But here's the kicker: quite possibly one of the most insightful and profound quotes of our entire generation comes from Brigadier General H. R. McMaster's assessment of the Microsoft program:
'“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.”'
I just invite you to think about the implications of these words spoken by a United States senior military official. Seriously, just think about it. Carefully.

No comments:

Post a Comment