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while the content of the slide is clearly shocking & thus the actual subject of the news story, I was also intrigued by the visual design of the presentation. a color-coded bar chart is used to illustrate an “Index of Civil Conflict", while a list of abstract color-coded icons (i.e. triangles, squares & arrows) & summarized textual facts 'decorate' the left side of the screen. how effective is this slide in communicating the actual situation, & the data on which it relies?

see also Tufte's essay about the quality & credibility of informational Powerpoint presentations.

[link: nytimes.com & commondreams.org]




It could be much better. The most obvious problem is that because the same colors are used for the index bar and the icons, I tried to find a relationship between the two.

Sat 11 Nov 2006 at 1:17 AM
Russell Wilson

Same thing happened to me. I saw "unorganized spontaneous mass civil conflict" and wondered how that was an indicator of "Peace".

Sat 11 Nov 2006 at 5:28 AM

I think the "index" part is unrelated to the rest of the information. The legend at the bottom is what you should reference. The colors and shapes are not independent. They're like "green clovers, blue diamonds, etc." So you can see that "unorganized spontaneous mass civil conflict" is actually "routine."

Not to say that this slide is useful. In fact, I can't get to the Times article to find out.

Sat 11 Nov 2006 at 5:54 AM

So how is this PowerPoint's fault? It's not like PowerPoint forced them to cram everything onto one slide and use some ambiguous color scales. This is simply bad layout, organization, and communication, and you can do that just as well with Keynote, Quark, or InDesign. It's a bit too easy to blame a program (which is a tool, nothing else), the problem clearly lies somewhere else.

Sat 11 Nov 2006 at 6:54 AM

it clearly is not the mistake of the Powerpoint software itself, but it definitely makes it easier to generate inefficient layout.

Tue 14 Nov 2006 at 10:25 AM

Maybe people like russell and trogdor should be given a sidearm and told to clear out a building or defuse a roadside bomb. As they do this we could have some military boys having a giggle and making snide remarks about how 9-5 desk warriors can't cut it in the field. Get my point?

Tue 14 Nov 2006 at 6:12 PM
Dangerous Danny

that is an interesting remark, danny. this metaphor can be applied just as well for the military, who should then not be amazed about their lack in communication skills.

Wed 15 Nov 2006 at 6:00 PM

frog Design did two redesigns of this slide to attempt to improve the information design.

SEE: http://www.frogdesign.com/iraq_conflict_slide_redesign/

Thu 16 Nov 2006 at 3:21 PM
Dave Hoffer

thnkx Dave,

I have posted the redesigns here.

Fri 17 Nov 2006 at 12:59 PM

Wow...this slide is truly terrible.

Thu 11 Jan 2007 at 6:31 PM
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