A time before Excel?

An article from 1984 about these crazy new electronic ledger sheets, or “spreadsheets”.

A spreadsheet way of knowledge
There is no doubt that the electronic spreadsheet saves time and provides insight; there is no doubt that even greater benefits will one day be derived from these grids. Yet all these benefits will be meaningless if the spreadsheet metaphor is taken too much to heart. After all, it is only a metaphor. Fortunately, few would argue that all relations between people can be quantified and manipulated by formulas. Of human behaviour, no faultless assumptions – and so no perfect model — can be made.

I wonder what the author would have made of the Quantified Self movement, that attempts to incorporate data from a person’s daily life into various formulas and models. Spreadsheets are everywhere now, not just in the office of accountants from Cincinnati.

Author: Terry Madeley

I graduated with an Interactive Arts degree in the 90s and since then I’ve enjoyed working with student data systems, processes and teams across a range of universities, colleges and schools. I like to keep up to date with what’s happening in art, data, education and technology, and use my blog to record all the interesting things I find along the way. Well, I find them interesting anyway.