Posts Tagged ‘Government’

The Redesign of an ugly NSA PowerPoint Presentation

Slide show expert Emiland De Cubber transforms the NSA’S clunky prism deck with minimalist cool.

When news of the NSA’s classified Prism program broke in, revealing that the U.S. government had ordered the collection of all Americans’ online activities, many cried foul over the Obama administration’s abuses of power. The op-ed machine churned out everything you could imagine, each piece more grave, impassioned, and seemingly “consequential” than the next. Some called for the imprisonment of Prism leaker Edward Snowden, while others offered sympathetic portraits of the young whistleblower.

But when the Prism slide show was circulated around the web, Emiland De Cubber’s first reaction was not a feeling of personal violation on the part of the state, nor worry about its unchecked powers, but rather one of disdain for the document’s presentation sins. He has revamped the NSA’s slide show, replacing its daft graphics with minimalist ones that are unnervingly cool.

1672808-inline-prism006

“I thought it was a joke at the beginning, like a caricature of an overly corporate slide template,” De Cubber tells Co.Design. “Huge logos, massive gradients, default fonts, poor charts.”

De Cubber, a visual communication designer, stumbled across data-viz jedi Edward Tufte’s mocking tweets, in which he reserved his ire for Prism’s egregious graphic sense. Tufte’s sneering critique–“Dreadful spy-PRISM deck sets new record for most header logos per slide: 13”–prompted De Cubber’s own response. He updated every aspect of the top-secret Powerpoint presentation, including the program’s terribly ’70s-“Dark Side of the Moon logo,” which De Cubber renders in skeletal, glow-green lines.

1672808-slide-prism013

Where the Prism slides each employ different graphic strategies, linked together only by a top banner laden with logos of the partnering companies, de Cubber devised a much more uniform system. His new Powerpoint features flat, pared-down icons that supplant the original’s cumbersome text boxes and jarring logos, and which seamlessly carry across the entire deck. In place of the gobs of text that cluttered the original, for example, De Cubber plots a field of web icons that clearly convey what kind of data can be extracted from online users. For the concluding slide–the one trolled ‘round the (micro-blogging) world–he vertically arrays the logos in tidy columns, each labeled with the year Google, Microsoft, Facebook, and others signed onto the program.

The reinterpreted deck economizes the information and privileges empty space. “People are afraid of an empty slide,” De Cubber explains. “They say, ‘I definitely need this gradient frame around my title,’ and then occupy 30% of their slides with stuff that doesn’t convey any information. That’s why I tried to draw a lot of contrast by keeping my slides as minimalistic as possible. Each element must earn its space on the slide.”

1672808-slide-prism015

There was one element of the NSA overview that, like many similar redesigns that have popped up online, De Cubber kept. He slightly modified “International Internet Bandwidth” graphic, featured on slide 2, tweaking certain aspects of its composition. He highlighted the U.S./North America circle and rearranged some bits of text to improve legibility. Asked why he left it intact, De Cubber says that he “liked the analogy between the graphic lines and the actual cables that convey data,” adding that the graphic accurately reflected how “nearly everything flows through the U.S.”

In addition to his wholesale changes to Prism’s visual language, De Cubber excised all of the presentation’s text and inserted his own in its place. In most cases, his thin lines of text delete redundancies and complications found in the original. Now and then, however, he does slip in some subtle digs that make plain the NSA’s intentions. “How can we monitor everything?” reads the heading of one slide; another touting the laundry list of collectable data assures the reader that “many more data sources [are] available upon request.” De Cubber’s cavalier approach to the entire project comes through in his concluding lines of the slide show: “Even if you are not a government agency, I would be happy to help you with your next presentation.”

 

SAMMY MEDINA

Sammy is a writer, designer, and ice cream maker based in New York. He once lived in China before being an editor at Architizer. 

Help Me Present!

Upload

  • ADB
  • ADP
  • ADT
  • Accenture
  • American-Express
  • Aramark
  • Carvel
  • Comcast
  • Costa
  • Cox
  • DAI
  • GE-Healthcare
  • GTE-Financial
  • Gtt
  • Johnson-and-Johnson
  • Markem-Imaje
  • Motorola
  • NASA
  • Office-Depot
  • Oracle
  • Polo
  • Republic-Services
  • Ryder
  • Siemens
  • Singlehop
  • Software-AG
  • TD-Waterhouse
  • UBS
  • VTiDirect
  • Venn-Strategies
  • Verizon
  • Whirlpool
  • “We engaged The Presentation Team to do a Presentation training for our team and he did a great job. He spent time understanding our requirements and the skill level of our team members and created a course which met our expectations and goals. I highly recommend The Presentation Team as a Presentation (PowerPoint) trainer.”

    Navdeep Sidhu
    Senior Director, Software AG

  • “Kevin Lerner provided best-in-class services when hired to work on promotional materials for the launch of a key product at Motorola. The expertise and quality that he brought to the project were second to none and as a result, he delivered a top-notch presentation that was quickly adopted throughout the organization. Kevin is great to work with, delivers on time, is a great team player and is always willing to go the extra mile.”

    Maria Cardoso
    Motorola

  • “Kevin has been a working with Cox Communications to deliver world-class PowerPoint presentation visuals since 2009. His ability to meet our specific needs, timeframe, and budgets has been exceptional. His professional interaction with our team reflects his deep expertise in the industry, superior presentation design skills, and commitment to superior service.”

    Jonathan Freeland
    VP, Video Marketing at Cox Communications

  • “Kevin is an enthusiastic, creative, and passionate presentation guru. Our company was impressed and felt the value of his training in 2013 that he was invited again recently to again share his knowledge. Both times he has been energetic and addressed many areas for presentation development. From planning to follow-up Kevin is personable and easygoing, motivating our teams to take their presentations to the next level.”

    Yoshimi Kawashima
    Project Coordinator, Nissin International

  • “Kevin helped me immensely improve my presentation slides development, from tips & tricks to aesthetics, all with the intent of getting the message across crisply and creatively. I’ve already received praise for decks that incorporate the skills obtained from his training. I highly recommend Kevin’s services.”

    Era Prakash
    General Electric

  • “Kevin helped me immensely improve my presentation slides development, from “The PowerPresentations seminar opened my eyes to all the limitless possibilities in presenting.”

    Leah Gordillo
    Saint Francis Medical Center

  • “Kevin helped me immensely improve my presentation slides development, from “[Kevin and The Presentation Team have] always delivered 110% in terms of meeting our objectives for finished product and budget”

    Paul Price
    Watsco Corp.

  • “I had more people come up to me after I spoke, commenting on the visuals you created, than I did on the subject matter!”

    Andy Smith
    Smith & Robb Advertising

  • “As a Fortune 1000 company, we sought to produce a classy, yet conservative presentation for our shareholders. It was evident that you and your team listened to our thoughts as you developed the presentation…”

    Will Flower
    Republic Services

  • “Your expertise in the filed of PowerPoint and general presentation techniques helped elevate us to the level necessary to beat the competition.”

    Mike Geary
    James Pirtle Construction

  • “Kevin brought a high level of creativity, enthusiasm, and deep multmedia experience to our team. He worked dillegently with the team to produce an outstanding proposal which we subsequently won.

    Jeff Keller
    Accenture/L3

articles education experts help power point powerpoint ppt presentation software presentations tutorials

Planning a Perfect PowerPoint – 7 Point Checklist

Slide show expert Emiland De Cubber transforms the NSA’S clunky prism deck with minimalist cool. When news of the NSA’s classified Prism program...

Read more

bolts presentations business presentations nuts storytelling storytelling techniques storytelling tips

15 Actionable Storytelling Tips You Can Use Today

Slide show expert Emiland De Cubber transforms the NSA’S clunky prism deck with minimalist cool. When news of the NSA’s classified Prism program...

Read more

add sections in powerpoint 2010 how to add presentation sections how to rename presentation sections PowerPoint 2010 powerpoint sections ppt rename sections in powerpoint 2010 sections in powerpoint working with powerpoint slides

Organize Your Presentation With Sections in PowerPoint 2010/2013

Slide show expert Emiland De Cubber transforms the NSA’S clunky prism deck with minimalist cool. When news of the NSA’s classified Prism program...

Read more