The Legacy of Combat
As I contact digital content-creators about their work to get permission to reproduce it for the Virtualpolitik book, some of these conversations can be difficult. As I note in the subheading of the book's title, stories about political media-making can involve "war, scandal, disaster, miscommunication, and mistakes." However, no conversation is more difficult than speaking with the loved ones of a deceased person about the legacy of their electronic rhetoric.
Yesterday I spoke in depth to Gary Patriquin and gained even more respect for his son, Captain Travis Patriquin, who died as a result of an IED in Iraq. Patriquin is probably best known for the "How to Win in Anbar" PowerPoint presentation, which in the book I argue is a far more effective use of Microsoft's slide show software than the PowerPoints that illustrated talks by Colin Powell or General Petraeus about the Iraq War. Patriquin's presentation has since become a YouTube video. Unlike other PowerPoint presentations featured by military bloggers, Patriquin's PowerPoint puts forward a detailed argument for a policy change that was ultimately implemented during "The Surge."
Mr. Patriquin told me that his son Travis initially designed the slides to explain the issues in the conflict to his own young daughter. Although Mark Bernstein criticized what he saw as the infantalization of the other depicted in Patriquin's rhetorical appeals, the actual story of how this military officer used the medium to clarify a message rather than obfuscate with chartjunk like his superiors merits some examination. See the photograph above, which was sent to me by the senior Patriquin, for another representation of sheiks and soldiers.