Crappy Graphics Are a Sign That NSA Is Focusing on Its Core Mission

Matt Yglesias is upset about the quality of the intel community’s PowerPoint skills:

I don’t have much to say about the substance, but note that nothing from America’s national security agencies seems to get published without some incredibly lame infographic….There are obviously bigger policy issues in play, but I have to say that I think well-run organizations wouldn’t rely on this kind of garbage in their internal presentations.

I’m on the opposite side: I’m perfectly happy that America’s spy agencies aren’t wasting their time polishing their graphical skills. If they haven’t been to Edward Tufte’s latest gabfest on chart junk, that’s fine with me. People worry about this stuff too much. Who cares if managers in both the private and public sectors are enamored of crappy-looking infographics and PowerPoint decks? Pretty much no one except us tech-savvy journalistic types, who traffic in charts and images for public consumption because it’s part of our jobs and we know our peers will mock us if we produce 90s-era craptacular graphics. That’s fine for us, but we should leave the rest of the world alone on this.


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