12 April 2010

Tom Ricks, what hath thou wrought?!

From today's "The Best Defense", regarding a TISS forum this past Friday:
[USMC General James] Mattis also spoke without any computer graphics. "The reason I didn't use PowerPoint is, I am convinced PowerPoint makes us stupid." I don't know if I'd go that far, but its absence of verbs does seem to me to emphasize aspirations without saying what actions we intend to take to realize them.

Army Brig. Gen. H.R. McMaster, who also spoke at the conference, also took a pop at PowerPoint, saying that when combined with certain ill-advised metrics, it "is really dangerous."
This prompted Spencer Ackerman to sound off against, well, Microsoft in general. While the post was, well, a little ill-conceived, Ackerman does make some good points. He talks about using a program similar to Google Documents in order to collaboratively work on projects instead of systems like, say, AKO. It's something I've been toying with in my "COIN for Aviators" project, and I think I might give it a whirl. I've just started a Google Wave with, well, the only people I know of that are participating in Google Wave: Adam Elkus, Captain Hyphen, and Josh from al-Sahwa. Guys, help me pass the wave along. (I have no idea how this Google Wave thing works, but it looks interesting. Let me know if you would like to help out)

For those of you who would like to bash the military's use of PowerPoint, however, I merely direct you to the following classics:


Anonymous said...

Using alternatives to AKO is likely to run into Army infosec issues. Yes, AKO has limitations, although they are not related to the underlying KD platform.

But IT security requires CAC-enabled websites for the military community. There are lots of areas where the requirements of security are hampering the need for IT modernization. I'm working to stand up a .com application in a .mil environment as a pilot project at the DISA DECC, and the ramifications at the installation-level are enormous: How will contractors access the system? What about work-at-home? How will this affect the ruggedized handhelds we're using in contingency operations?

There are a lot of innovators out there, and like us, they'll have to deal with the security environment, and it won't be pleasant.

Starbuck said...

You're absolutely right. Fortunately, I'm only using stuff that can be found in open-source documents. In fact, nearly anything I was going to say about airpower in COIN could be found in the USMC Small Wars manual from 1940!

Eric C said...

Yeah, we wrote a post on five tips to better PowerPoint because the problem is so rampant. As an outsider to the military, I frankly can't believe how dependent the military is on PowerPoint.

I'm glad there is a rising chorus against it.

J. said...

When the military stops using powerpoint, only rogue nations will have powerpoint. Can we take that chance?

Powerpoint briefs don't kill, briefers with poor presentation skills kill. Protect the right to bear powerpoint charts!