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    International Communication
    Module 3 - Case
    Persuasive Writing: Introduction

    This assignment introduces you to a new way to use persuasive writing. You will read an article in a newspaper and write a Letter to the Editor.
    A Letter to the Editor should present a point of view logically. No rants and no summarization of the article. The 5-paragraph essay will work (or use another form of organization if you are an experienced writer).
    and read this article about writing a persuasive essay:
    You can also google "how to write a letter to the editor" if you like.
    Your assignment:
    (1) Read this article from The New York Times:
    "We have met the enemy and he is PowerPoint.
    This link appears on 2 lines but should fit onto one line of your browser with no breaks. Here is an abbreviation if you prefer:
    (2) Write a letter to the editor, using the 5 paragraph essay format or another persuasive, logical style. Your letter should take a stand. You could either (1) agree with the article's premise; you would argue that Powerpoint is overused and/or wrongly used. OR (2) you can disagree. You might argue that Powerpoint is an effective communication. strategy and/or management tool.
    Focus on ONE setting: corporate OR military. Keep your focus simple and straightforward.
    Your paper goes like this:
    (1) Statement of what you want to argue;
    (2) 2-4 logical reasons supporting your point, each logically discussed in one paragraph;
    (3) identify and respond to at least one point that might be raised to disagree with you;
    (4) conclude without repeating, "I did x and then I did y..." Your conclusion should pull these diverse thoughts together in a new and interesting way.

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    Solution Preview

    To approach solving this problem, first read the assignment instructions thoroughly to understand exactly what it is you are being asked to do. Then, read the assigned article critically. That means take notes for yourself as you read. Pick out the major points the author makes. These main ideas will be the ones that you will agree with or disagree with in your response essay.

    The article is copied and pasted below for you:

    WASHINGTON - Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, the leader of American and NATO forces in Afghanistan, was shown a PowerPoint slide in Kabul last summer that was meant to portray the complexity of American military strategy, but looked more like a bowl of spaghetti.
    Enlarge This Imagejavascript:pop_me_up2('http://www.nytimes.com/imagepages/2010/04/27/world/27powerpoint_CA1_337-395.html','27powerpoint_CA1_337_395_html','width=720,height=568,scrollbars=yes,toolbars=no,resizable=yes')
    Pool photo by Jim Watson
    Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, center, in Kabul in March. He gets PowerPoint printouts the night before staff meetings.
    Readers' Comments
    Readers shared their thoughts on this article.
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    "When we understand that slide, we'll have won the war," General McChrystal dryly remarked, one of his advisers recalled, as the room erupted in laughter.
    The slide has since bounced around the Internet as an example of a military tool that has spun out of control. Like an insurgency, PowerPoint has crept into the daily lives of military commanders and reached the level of near obsession. The amount of time expended on PowerPoint, the Microsoft presentation program of computer-generated charts, graphs and bullet points, has made it a running joke in the Pentagon and in Iraq and Afghanistan.
    "PowerPoint makes us stupid," Gen. James N. Mattis of the Marine Corps, the Joint Forces commander, said this month at a military conference in North Carolina. (He spoke without PowerPoint.) Brig. Gen. H. R. McMaster, who banned PowerPoint presentations when he led the successful effort to secure the northern Iraqi city of Tal Afar in 2005, followed up at the same conference by likening PowerPoint to an internal threat.
    "It's dangerous because it can create the illusion of understanding and the illusion of control," General McMaster said in a telephone interview afterward. "Some problems in the world are not bullet-izable."
    In General McMaster's view, PowerPoint's worst offense is not a chart like the spaghetti graphic, which was first uncovered by NBC's Richard Engel, but rigid lists of bullet points (in, say, a presentation on a conflict's causes) that take no account of interconnected political, economic and ethnic forces. "If you divorce war from all of that, it becomes a targeting exercise," General McMaster said.
    Commanders say that behind all the PowerPoint jokes are serious concerns that the program stifles discussion, critical thinking and thoughtful decision-making. Not least, it ties up junior officers - referred to as PowerPoint Rangers - in the daily preparation of slides, be it for a Joint Staff meeting in Washington or for a platoon leader's pre-mission combat briefing in a remote pocket of Afghanistan.
    Last year when a military Web site, Company Command, asked an Army platoon leader in Iraq, Lt. Sam Nuxoll, how he spent most of his time, he responded, "Making PowerPoint slides." When pressed, he said he was serious.
    "I have to make a storyboard complete with digital pictures, diagrams and text summaries on just about anything that happens," ...

    Solution Summary

    Persuasive essay in letter to the editor format on the overuse of Powerpoint in the military and corporate worlds, with articles and references, plus sample suggested essay beginning.