Wednesday, July 27, 2011

PowerPoint Continues to Obfuscate

Despite years of evidence showing that PowerPoint can make you stupid, its use continues unabated. Here are some selected slides from a recent military briefing. 

Rather busy slide
Way too many words
It's all clear now
Time line a bit too cluttered
TMI (Too Much Information)

If you dare, you can look at the complete set of briefing slides here.

The military hasn’t learned anything from its experience in the Iraq War. During the war, orders were dispatched as copies of PowerPoint slides instead of explicitly written documents. Commanders in the field were not sure exactly what to do. Here’s a slide showing how the occupation of Iraq was supposed to be carried out.

And we have the well-known discourse about the PowerPoint briefing as the space shuttle Columbia disaster unfolded. Buried in a level 6 bullet point among 5 uses of the word “significant(ly)” and in engineering jargon is the fact that the amount of damage the ship incurred at launch had never been researched.

We still use PowerPoint slides extensively in medicine with similar degrees of confusion. Prezi is a new presentation software which to me seems like a spin-off of PowerPoint offering no apparent improvement other than you can zoom. So what?

I see this getting worse. Can anything be done to stop PowerPoint from destroying the world? Here’s the bottom line.


Anonymous said...

Actually, it isn't PowerPoint's fault.

It is the idiot behind the keyboard.

Before you give a presentation with PowerPoint, ask somebody to look at it! Use a white background, few sentences, use graphics and video. . .and keep it short.

Skeptical Scalpel said...

I agree with you. The problem is that about 90% of PowerPoint's features are not only useless, they're distracting. People seem to feel that because the features are there, they must be used.

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