Boston Globe’s Take on PowerPoint Making Us Stupid: When bullets miss their targets


Ok, the Globe’s headline is much better than mine. (Though mine was part of an ongoing series looking at technology that makes us stupid.)

Check out “PowerPoint: When bullets miss their targets,” which does a nice job of summarizing — in bulleted form, no less — the problems and benefits of PowerPoint.

The issue:
■ Ubiquitous Microsoft presentation software now a fixture of high-level military planning efforts. Junior officers spend hours distilling complex issues into PowerPoint. Top commanders skeptical, NYT reports.

■ Pentagon = tip of iceberg. Military’s use of PowerPoint pales next to corporate America’s.

The case for PowerPoint:
■ Radically simplifies decision-making.

■ Offers ready alternative when elegant prose, hard numbers, clear thinking are in short supply.

■ Ideal format for identifying “paradigm shifts,’’ “synergies,’’ “value-adds.’’

The case against PowerPoint:
■ Radically simplifies decision-making.

■ Erodes etiquette. Endless litany of eye-glazing slides in darkened room promotes antisocial behavior — i.e., texting, napping during meetings.

■ “i hate powerpoint’’ —> 1,040,000 Google hits

■ Creates illusion of progress. When in doubt, add more slides!

Lessons “going forward’’:
■ “Some problems in the world are not bullet-izable.’’ — Brigadier General H.R. McMaster

■ Discard laser pointer. Just talk to people.

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