Death By PowerPoint

So we all know that bullet points are a crime in PowerPoint. You’re meant to do the minimalist thing:  a picture and a single word in Helvetica. Or just the word. Otherwise you risk being B-O-R-I-N-G.

Apparently, it could be worse. This guy thinks that poor PowerPoint was partly to blame for the Challenger disaster.

It has to do with NASA and Boeing engineers “burying” some annoying statistical technicality about the foam that hit Challenger’s wing way down among the bullet points, close to the bottom of the page. That annoying statistical stuff turned out to be rather important, as it effectively voided all the safety models and meant that Challenger, orbiting around the Earth full of blissfully unaware astronauts, was at far greater risk than everyone thought.

Apparently one of the lesser-known recommendations to come out of the Challenger disaster was that PowerPoint no longer be used as a format for technical reports.

So. Next time I see a throwaway “caution: low base size” on a tracking debrief, I might mention this. And see what everyone says.


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