dilbert

It was just a couple of days back I wrote a post titled, ‘Do not blame the medium for human stupidity‘. And here goes New York Times with a piece titled, ‘We Have Met the Enemy and He Is PowerPoint‘ – sweet heavens!

The article is about how the humble PowerPoint has infiltrated the brains of US army. The article has a #epicfail complex diagram to represent the situation in Afghanistan. And guess what? No, it looks perfectly complex – almost like Facebook trying to explain it’s privacy policy….but, it doesn’t look even remotely like PowerPoint. It’s possibly created using some other tool and is likely to be embedded in a PowerPoint slide for the sake of presentation.

In my earlier post, I wrote about widespread opinion in Indian media about the ‘dangers of Twitter’, since 2 high-profile public figures, who tweeted away to glory got caught in a real world mess. It has nothing to do with Twitter and everything to do with disclosures made on Twitter that should have never been made in the first place.

Now, this NYT piece, blaming PowerPoint. To be fair, this article has a helpful sentence, ‘No one is suggesting that PowerPoint is to blame for mistakes in the current wars…’. Whatever!

Even if it sounds obvious, let me say it again – PowerPoint is just a tool. It can be used to convey something amazingly well or in an astonishingly boring manner. It is dependent entirely upon who uses it and how. Specifically, the thought behind creating slides happens in your mind, not on the slide. The slides are an expression of your thoughts so that, while you speak to an audience, they do not fidget around their phones or look at your protruding nose-hair.

When Steve Jobs uses a presentation loaded with awesome visuals, the world goes ga-ga. Granted, not everyone can create presentations like that, but that should serve both as an example and as an inspiration for people who want to present something…anything…to any audience.

If someone in this piece says, ‘PowerPoint is making us stupid…’, just imagine how much more stupid or bright they’d be without it. If they at least say it is making them lazy, I can understand – slide recycling is a real problem, but that again is a result of not using one’s own brain – nothing to do with the medium per se!

Just imagine – you are walking in a field. There are thorns in it. And for some unexplainable reason, you’re walking barefoot. What would happen? Whatever is supposed to happen is explained in the following manner, if I were to transliterate it from the expression in my native tongue, Tamil (a South Indian language) – ‘The thorn punched me‘. No, really – don’t laugh. That’s exactly the expression we use – I’m sure certain other Indian dialects may have a similar expression.

Now, compare that to how the same act is expressed in English. You say, ‘I ran the thorn‘. And it literally blames oneself for having got the darn thorn into the leg – it makes perfect sense, because the thorn is exactly where it is/was. It is the man who made the effort to get into the thorn’s path and ran it in his foot.

This article blaming PowerPoint for whatever evil is a similarly misguided and vacuous allegation. What’s even more amazing is how this article is gaining viral traction on Twitter, where, very few people have bothered to add an opinion about how stupid it is to blame a mere medium.

Dilbert comic courtesy: A Google search and the man-genius you all know, Scott Adams.

We Have Met the Enemy and He Is PowerPoint

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