American Military Strategy: Death by Powerpoint

This is how the American military summarises the Afghan War, in a Powerpoint slide:

27powerpoint_CA0-articleLarge.jpg

“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.

Last year when a military Web site, Company Command, asked an Army platoon leader in Iraq, Lt. Sam Nuxoll, how he spent most of his time, he responded, “Making PowerPoint slides.” When pressed, he said he was serious.


In a daytime telephone conversation, he estimated that he spent an hour each day making PowerPoint slides. In an initial e-mail message responding to the request for an interview, he wrote, “I would be free tonight, but unfortunately, I work kind of late (sadly enough, making PPT slides).”

via NYTimes

Maybe I could be a soldier after all 😛

The problem with Powerpoint is that it’s the only option available. There are a lot of programs out there that make impressive presentations. Many of these other programs don’t take all that much longer to use than powerpoint. The problem is to use them most people need to hire someone, and that is perceived to be expensive. It is also normally impossible to hire someone at the last minute (and let’s face it, that’s when most of us end up designing our slides..). Sounds to me like there’s a market for a simple program that allows for a lot more flexibility in helping people represent real relationships via a projector/screen. If you could use three dimensions and movement to illustrate the graphic above then such diagrams might make a lot more sense. A lot more sense than bullet points anyway…

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