It seems every 3-4 months that someone in the U.S. military gets in trouble for saying too much, or too little, in relation to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, sometimes about policy and sometimes about, essentially, the use and communication of data in conduct of the war. Of course it’s data communications that’s my topic today. And it’s PowerPoint that comes up repeatedly, praised or under fire, reflecting the office software’s ubiquity and adaptability in communicating data-derived insights.
My blog article today was prompted by War consists largely of endless tinkering with PowerPoint slides, which appeared August 27 in Government Computer News. Writer Kevin McCaney reports, “An Army Reserve colonel serving at the International Security Assistance Force Joint Command in Afghanistan was fired after writing a harsh criticism of the military’s use of PowerPoint slides in what he says is an unproductive, top-heavy environment.” McCaney points us to now-former the U.S. Army Reserve Colonel Lawrence Sellin’s Outside View: PowerPoints ‘R’ Us and to the Wired article Colonel Kicked Out of Afghanistan for Anti-PowerPoint Rant. PowerPoint reinforces a “battle rhythm” according to Sellin, where “progress in the war is optional.” “Volume is considered the equivalent of quality” and “structure always trumps function.”