In 2013, former NSA administrator Edward Snowden changed the world by leaking an enormous amount of documents detailing a massive surveillance program the government had been secretly carrying out, recording detailed information about practically anyone with an internet connection. Almost more disturbing than this revelation was seeing just how terrible the design of these top secret documents were.
It turns out that government officials barely know how to make a PowerPoint presentation; officials high up in intelligence agencies we trust with sensitive information. The fonts were terrible, the charts were a mess and they looked like something made by a technologically inept college freshman.
Playing on the NSA’s laughably bad design and the depressing frequency with which we now discover these scandals, artist Julian Oliver’s latest work comes as a set of slides using the open source program Libreoffice. The Snowden Templates provide a step-by-step guide for creating your own faux governmental conspiracy, including instructions like “reference a team code index like ‘B11561-L’ suggesting countless other branches scattered in a Kafkian surveillance network employing 1/10 of the U.S. population” and “mention one previously known project with a ridiculous name like TURTLEPOWER or BLEAKINQUIRY.”
The presentation also helpfully comes with pre-made, amateurish flow charts and graphs for you to fill in yourself, with titles like “Descent of Doom” and “Terrifying Graph 1.” Have fun, and remember, the NSA is definitely watching!