07 January 2010

I just got pwnt...

Spencer Ackerman got the last--and best--word in today on the PowerPoint issue we talked about earlier today.

[Jason Sigger, Matthew Yglesias and I] cheer [Maj. Gen. Michael] Flynn’s brave condemnation of PowerPoint. And I join them. Yet they neglect the looming intelligence failure contained within Flynn’s choice of solution. Microsoft Word is a shitty and archaic writing platform. True counterinsurgents will embrace GoogleDocs instead.

Why? Because the thrust of Flynn’s analytic point concerns the need for rapid and granular acquisition and dissemination of information about key trends amongst the Afghan populace. With Microsoft Word, you can write, as with any word-processing program. But you can’t network. What’s more, if you’re writing in Microsoft Word and you wish to check a fact or be sure about context or see what else has been written on the subject, you have to constantly minimize and call up your browser. You’re switching between platforms inefficiently. With GoogleDocs, not only do you write in your browser, but you have instant interoperability with anyone you choose to share your document with. A team of analysts has access to your report as soon as you send invitations — even while you write it. Colleagues can learn from each other, critique each other, and adjust their work, all in real time. That’s a mission-critical platform.

The Attackerman is absolutely correct.

What's kind of interesting is that the Defense Knowledge Online system is attempting to emulate a few Web 2.0-style technologies in an attempt to emulate a collaborative work environment...only the military's knowledge management systems seem to be years behind Google.

More to follow tomorrow. AKO horror stories and complaints are quite welcome.

1 comment:

Peter said...

After my Army service I spent 16 years as a technical writer at DoD-oriented consulting firms. My experience has been that furnishing electronic draft copies of documents I'm working on to others usually results in requests for gratuitous changes and revisions to early parts of a document before I've even gotten around to writing the middle and end parts. As a writer I prefer to keep draft documents to myself until they've gone through my own quality control process. In the Army few people are good writers and I would hate to think that everyone who outranked me in my chain of command could frivolously alter my documents before I've even finished writing them.