New PowerPoint Critique

Recently, a new PowerPoint-blame article was published by the New York Times titled “We Have Met the Enemy and He Is PowerPoint” by Elisabeth Bumiller. The article outlines that after NASA and other organizations, now the US military has figured out that you cannot win a war with bullet-point style briefings. The story “PowerPoint of Afghan War Strategy” made it even onto Slashdot where it was widely discussed. While Bumiller’s article notes in the one of the last paragraphs that “No one is suggesting that PowerPoint is to blame for mistakes in the current wars” it comes pretty close to that (and pretty close to the last PowerPoint-blame article the NYT published in 2003 called “PowerPoint Makes You Dumb“). While PowerPoint is not a program which promotes or encourages good design, especially when default templates are used, I would caution to blame the current (mis)use of a program instead of addressing potential shortcomings in presentation skills. One should read “In Defense of PowerPoint” by Don Norman, the HCI guru and author of The Design of Everyday Things.