You can't hug a child with nuclear arms and apparently you can't win a war with bullet points...
as a half tech/half sales guy, this is how I see every salespersons approach to technlogy. go to episode 2

"you fucking sales guys think you can do everything in powerpoint!"
Whoa who did Bill piss off? Or was it Steve "the US military is insignificant compared to the Redmond team" Ballmer to blame?
When I was in the Peace Corps we suffered through a numbing amount of Powerpoint presentations. The very worst I can remember had something to do with "the tipping point."

Of course, my memory of these things is foggy at best, because I medicated beforehand with a liberal amount of rum. I decided to do this after sitting through the first presentation sober.

Hypnotizing chickens, indeed. Bock bock.
When people ask me to help them with their PowerPoint presentations, all I can think of is "erase it". PowerPoint is evil. Nothing useful or interesting has ever happened in a PowerPoint presentation.
best line in the story:

Senior officers say the program does come in handy when the goal is not imparting information, as in briefings for reporters.
The thing is, this is not the fault of PowerPoint per se. It does a decent job at the task it's designed for. The trouble is that people are lazy and rely too much on it for situations where it's not the best tool, or not at all appropriate, in part because it conveys the illusion of professionalism.
Blaming PowerPoint for this is like blaming paper for people writing bad poetry. PowerPoint is a piece of software and not the presentation itself; if they had use another presentation software to make those presentations it would still have been the same damn thing.
Unless Microsoft added a "Presentation Checker" that tells you if your presentation is a piece of crap or not.
I can honestly say that I've never sat through a PowerPoint presentation that wasn't a complete waste of time. Not. Once.
or.. the military hired dumbass contractors to make a shitty powerpoint to say in way too many words, "don't drop bombs on people's houses."
They're kind of busy celebrating their IP win over China today.
Required reading: Tufte's essay on PowerPoint-…
Check out "Beyond PowerPoint". Ironic that MS Press produces a book about how to make PowerPoint not feel like PowerPoint.
Imagine how effective D-Day would have really been if only we had PowerPoint technology in 1944...

oh yeah, it's Business Time...
Team Building Exercise Nineteen-Fortay-Four-er.
I don't see it that PowerPoint makes us stupid -- I see it that it is a tool to help us deal with the fact that people are stupid.

Most people have short attention spans. Most people are only able to absorb information in small chunks. Most people get distracted by extraneous words. Therefore, PowerPoint is my friend. It helps me get across the information I need to in a logical and concise way, so that "most people" can understand it. Am I capable of writing a 10 pages report in Word to summarize findings/recommendations? Of course. But, I actually prefer it if people (A) actually read what I write and (B) can understand what I want them to do.

[Ahem. Feeling a little cynical about humans today, in case you hadn't noticed]
@7, @8, OK, have it your way. PRESENTATION SOFTWARE is full of shit, not just PowerPoint. If you are showing bullet-point slides to people, you are damaging their understanding, period.

I say that as a diehard diagram-lover, who cannot understand even the simplest concepts without drawing a picture. Diagrams are not presentation slides.
They oughta just give David Byrne a big Defense Department contract.
I remember reading a New Yorker article about PowerPoint which included the story of a mom who used a presentation to teach her kids some point, leaving them crying and hysterically promising not to do anything to warrant such treatment again. Made me wish I could do that at work.
i'm not familiar with the "chart war" macro.
general, powerpoint said to torch that villiage. i was just following orders.

I have to admit I've seen a few PPTs that were so well done that I was like, wow, I am engrossed. The problem is that 99.9% of PPTs are just... dour. And by dour, I don't mean just dour, I mean, it's dour like that line in Beetlejuice (paraphrasing): "MY PRESENTATION IS A DARK ROOM. A BIG, DARK ROOM."

Most of what can be done in PPT can be done in a simple text print out that says XYZ. "What are my sales numbers?" Text. "What are last month's metrics?" Text.

Now, if you want to--in a fancy way--dress up data points to have an evocative affect and catch people's attention, you can use PPT. If the situation calls for it. PPTs can be good for training programs, and I'm proud of a couple I've ran like that. 30% PPT, 30% my talking, 30% white board, and 10% answering questions. Could I have subbed out the PPT there? Sure, probably, but it was nice to go point by point to let them digest factoids at a measured pace. Start with a white slide and reveal each one at a time, then leave them up as you talk, then whiteboard a scenario that feeds into a q&a. Wash, rinse, repeat.

But most people think that PPT = data dump and/or default graphics to make stuff slide in. You can add all the graphics and clip art you want, but a dull presentation is still a dull presentation. Powerpoint is just one tool in the arsenal. Too many lazy people let it become the main weapon.
The use of PowerPoint to ensnare us in the Iraq War reminds me of how reckless use of Lotus 1-2-3 caused the S&L crisis back in the 80s. You could just write a formula that would tell you what your annual rate of return needed to be to attain the desired end value of your properties, and voila! It happened!
Charles Stross' secret agent character Bob Howard barely makes it out of an eldritch Powerpoint presentation/incantation that literally turns his coworkers into hollowed-out zombies full of extradimensional entities in the novel "The Jennifer Morgue"...
That pic on the NYT is a Visio diagram turned into a PowerPoint Slide
It's not Microsoft's fault, but tools like PowerPoint have really become detrimental to the learning process in the hands of normal people. Fact of the matter is, the majority of the population doesn't know how to create a proper PPT presentation and we all suffer for it. Bullet points are evil! PPT was not meant to be a list you read off. PPT was not meant to be giant cue cards. Etc.
@22 - we used it in the mil side of Boeing long before Iraq. It was fun doing up presentations on Hot Rocks, Brilliant Pebbles, and the LRCSW (aka cruise missiles).
Just completed sitting through the second day of a four day conference and if I could secretly creep back into the conference venue tonight and take a sledge hammer to every projector I would.

The vast majority of presentations -- especially scientific and research ones -- are actually made worse by Powerpoint. It's not necessarily the fault of the software, but of presenters. They load their whole damn presentation into Powerpoint and then proceed to read from each slide. They turn to look at the screen and then get all discombobulated if it looks different than it did on their laptop in their hotel room the night before. For fuck's sake people, the only slides you need are ones where a visual is required. Maps, photos, graphs, charts. Do not load your fucking talk or even mnemonic bullet points into slides. Your audience doesn't need them and unless you're a very skilled presenter in will just slow you down and make you BORING.
@25 - wish they had used Powerpoint for today's Senate hearings on the financial scandals. Would have been way faster.
@17 Fnarf, when it comes down to it, I'm with Tufte. To quote the conclusion from the essay linked above, "PowerPoint is a competent slide manager and projector. But rather than supplementing a presentation, it has become a substitute for it. Such misuse ignores the most important rule of speaking: Respect your audience."

And to spread some blame around, Microsoft's response just posted in the update—"PowerPoint continues to be the best tool to creatively bring someone's ideas to life and effectively educate and persuade"—is a marketing necessity, but disingenuous and misleading. PowerPoint is a good tool for certain purposes, but certainly is not the single "best tool to creatively bring someone's ideas to life".
Powerpoint made me realize that people who are most likely to give a presentation are not visual thinkers.

but hey, the desert camo conference badge lanyards were a nice touch.
What #29 said.

And since Fnarf just brought up Lotus 1-2-3 (holy shit I'd completely forgotten about that); there's a better argument to be made for spreadsheet programs being the dangerously abused and destructive force in modern business. The title of CFO shouldn't even exist, but not for these.
The Grandparents send their pictures for the kids as PPT attachments. That seems about the right use for it.
"PowerPoint is a part of our daily lives and the presentation tool of choice for millions of people."

PowerPoint is also highly underrated as a sleep aid.
It is the fault of PowerPoint. It's a bad program. It puts up low-resolution, low-information content slides and gives mindless drones the tools to automatically decorate them to make it seem like they contain information.

Disguising non-information as information is the very essence of what PowerPoint does.

"PowerPoint is a part of our daily lives and the presentation tool of choice for millions of people" sounds a lot like "Like it or not, you can't just quit" the Mormon church. But it's true: you probably can't escape PowerPoint. Microsoft might have a point: resistance is futile.
We will be assimilated.
Besides the well-known dumbing down effects of giving PowerPoint presentations and having to sit through them, the process of creating them is a soul-crushing experience because of the terribly clunky and counter-intuitive user interface, the shitty way PP handles typography and images, and then the technical headaches of dealing with font issues, massively bloated file sizes, sharing files between my work station and the boss's laptop, and all the different things that can go wrong with projectors.

At my most recent job I had to frequently create presentations, and even though I was working with really nice photos and some interesting content (this was at an architecture firm), it was my most frustrating, annoying, and tedious task.
Ever time you make a power point, Edward Tufte kills a kitten:
i deal with way too many powerpoints at work and i've just recently come to the realization that my problem with powerpoint is that i was trying to do my thinking and analysis directly in powerpoint and it's simply the wrong tool for that. i've decided that i think better in document form where complex ideas can be fully explored. powerpoint can be used as a supplement to PRESENT key concepts visually during a presentation.

the vast majority of corporate america simply uses powerpoint incorrectly. while it's not the greatest software or interface as @37 correctly points out, it's not what's evil. it's the way people use it that's evil.
the pr woman has a point. stupid people make powerpoint stupider.
there are good presentations and very bad ones. there are appropriate uses of powerpoint and inappropriate ones.

those that abuse powerpoint really ought to take some of the responsibility.
@1 FTW!

Best PP presentation I ever did see was done by a Vancouver City Councilman about urban planning.

It had no words at all. 40 minutes, all images. Incredible.

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