Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Hating on PowerPoint

I absolutely hate PowerPoint. It is, in the classroom anyway, far too often a way of fluffing up a crappy lesson that can't stand on its own, or obfuscating a solid lesson that would be a lot clearer without a projector. I feel heartened about the future of the United States after learning from today's NY Times that many of the nation's senior military figures feel the same way:
"PowerPoint makes us stupid,” Gen. James N. Mattis of the Marine Corps, the Joint Forces commander, said this month at a military conference in North Carolina. (He spoke without PowerPoint.) Brig. Gen. H. R. McMaster, who banned PowerPoint presentations when he led the successful effort to secure the northern Iraqi city of Tal Afar in 2005, followed up at the same conference by likening PowerPoint to an internal threat.
Of course, as with the cockroach and the rat, the hatred of powerful, logical, and determined people everywhere is not enough to drive it into extinction:

Despite such tales, “death by PowerPoint,” the phrase used to described the numbing sensation that accompanies a 30-slide briefing, seems here to stay. 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.

“There’s a lot of PowerPoint backlash, but I don’t see it going away anytime soon,” said Capt. Crispin Burke, an Army operations officer at Fort Drum, N.Y., who under the name Starbuck wrote an essay about PowerPoint on the Web site Small Wars Journal that cited Lieutenant Nuxoll’s comment.

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