Friday, March 17, 2006

PowerPoint Politics

A few months ago, I complained that policy documents from the White House too often resembled PowerPoint documents. Specifically, I said that the National Strategy for Victory in Iraq was composed in the worst possible form of didactic, staccatto, corporate prose with bullet points, arrows, and check marks punctuating its stunted phrases.

The new National Security Strategy that has been published by the Whitehouse offers yet more PowerPoint Politics with pages of decapitated sentences like "Champion Aspirations for Human Dignity" and "Engage the Opportunities and Confront the Challenges of Globalization."

Edward Tufte may go too far by comparing the popular software application to Stalinist information warfare. But Peter Norvig's essay about how PowerPoint "lifts the floor" but also "lowers the ceiling" of rhetorical discourse may more charitably explain the problem with bullet points. Norvig is probably best known for his truly funny Gettysburg Powerpoint Presentation.

Oddly enough, this week I have been watching the PowerPoint presentations of my own students about how Charles Beitz's International Theory and Political Relations could be related to various border and state autonomy conflicts around the world. I suggested other visual means of communication -- handouts, posters, and webpages -- but almost all my students chose PowerPoint, perhaps because it was the presentation means of choice in high school.

Labels: , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home