PowerPoint — An Internal Threat?

The New York Times did a story, “We Have Met the Enemy and He is PowerPoint” about the military’s use or misuse of the presentation tool.  As is common, the tool is blamed for horrible presentations that result.  While I do not agree with the belief that PowerPoint makes you stupid and it is the tool that makes presentations bad, the article does make some valid points.

In claiming that PowerPoint is an internal threat, General McMaster makes a good point.  “It’s dangerous because it can create the illusion of understanding and the illusion of control,” General McMaster said in a telephone interview afterward. “Some problems in the world are not bullet-izable.” If only bullet points are used, it is difficult to see the interconnectedness of items, make a complex situation seem overly simple.  With that I totally agree.

He goes on to make the point that PowerPoint hinders the decision making process because it limits critical thinking and discussion.  Here I don’t agree.  It is only when the tool is misused that this occurs.  If people are presuming that once it is on a slide it is fact and not questioning the presenter, then it limits critical thinking, but that is the fault of the people.  And if the presenter does not use PowerPoint to encourage conversation, then that is the fault of the presenter.

I do think that there is a tendency to believe that PowerPoint replaces more elements of a communication interaction then it really does.  If used properly, it promotes communication and understanding by giving an additional visual element to the conversation.  That is it.  It doesn’t replace the conversation or lessen the responsibility of anyone participating.  That is the crux of the issue.

Since the program is not going away any time soon, as the article clearly states is the case in the military, perhaps it is time to teach more people how to use the tool more effectively.

If Communication Fails . . . Spouse Spying

The Forbes article “How to Track a Cheating Spouse” is one way to find out if your mate is being faithful.  Being that I am all about communication, I prefer the direct communication route.  If you ask your spouse to their face if they are sleeping with someone else, chances are you will be able to tell from their reaction, even if they lie straight to your face.

But, I guess if you try the direct communication and they lie, you can do as this article suggests and use technology to track down their activities.  Now we not only have phone logs and kept text-message conversations, but we even have GPS to track if people are where they said they would be.

So, if direct communication fails . . .

Scrabble Words

Being that Scabble is my most favorite game in the world, I was quite interested in hearing the news about proposed changes to the Official Scrabble Players Dictionary (OSPD) shared in the NY Times.

I recently had the opportunity to play Scrabble with an ordinary dictionary (travel version at that) and found it very unsatisfying. All of my usual end-of-game short words didn’t even exist in the travel dictionary.  It made me miss my OSPD.  But little did I know that the Scrabble Dictionary had so much conflict surrounding it.

From the NYT:

“The rules on the inside cover of the box, written by the game’s inventor, Alfred Butts, and its first marketer, James Brunot, are explicit: “Any words found in a standard dictionary are permitted except those capitalized, those designated as foreign words, abbreviations and words requiring apostrophes or hyphens.”

The interpretation of those rules, however, has been anything but simple. This past week, outrage sounded worldwide after reports, which proved untrue, that Scrabble would permit the use of proper nouns. The linguistic dust-up was only the latest in the game’s history.”

Apparently I am not the only one who has heated debates over whether foul language and foreign words commonly used in English should be allowed on the board.  Apparently there is a constant debate over making the dictionary more inclusive versus concise.  Next time I am arguing over a word with an opponent, I will remember two things:  1) I am not alone in my struggle 2) never play without my OSPD by my side.