Wednesday, April 28, 2010

A New Military Insurgency..PowerPoint!

A fascinating article was published in the April 27th edition of the New York Times entitled "We Have Met the Enemy and He is PowerPoint." The article describes the use (or misuse) of PowerPoint in the military. The image above was on the front page of the paper and was a slide in a PowerPoint presentation by Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal in a briefing in Kabul (Summer 2009). This image is being used as an example of the current abuse of PowerPoint in the military. Some notable comments and quotations from the article expand on the criticism of PowerPoint :

"PowerPoint makes us stupid"
“Some problems in the world are not bullet-izable”
"...the program stifles discussion, critical thinking and thoughtful decision-making"
“hypnotizing chickens"

This NYT piece mirrors articles and blog posts I have read about the use of PowerPoint in education. However, some comments on the article (in the web version) provide a rebuttal to the criticisms of PowerPoint. A portion of a notable comment is provided below. Please click COMMENTS below to give us your thoughts on this article or PowerPoint.

Comment on NYT article (April 27, 2010):
"PowerPoint is just a technology. It is the misapplication of that technology that is at the heart of the problem these military commanders are concerned about. But I'll go further and say the problem is cultural. No one wants to spend the time reading or writing technical papers that discuss the details beyond the depth that PowerPoint allows. In schools and in business people have been conditioned to look for the bullet points. Whether it's medical students learning to diagnose pneumonia or NASA managers trying to address a problem with the space shuttle, no one wants to listen to more than the bullet points. They ignore the connections between lines that form the context of the analysis and ultimately the solution."