Thursday, March 09, 2006

Neat Spreadsheet!

Yup. The title of this week's blog, is a phrase that I actually heard someone utter on the commuter train on my way home this evening. She was explaining to a friend how neat this spreadsheet is that she deals with at work. I say, "ick."

Don't get me wrong. I, too, have been swept up by the marvels of Excel. Granted, I'm way low tech (because numbers and I have agreed to disagree with one another). But there is a temptation to pile a whole lot of info into a bazillion cells in a spreadsheet, add colourful headings, freeze rows and columns for easy viewing, and feel like the organizational equivalent of a sexpot.

Beware! Excel deceives. No matter how you dress it up, no matter how handy it is to alphabetize lists by the items in column D instead of column A, no matter what calculations it purports to calculate or graphs it happily graphs, underneath, it is still a dull, dull spreadsheet meant for math and figures and numbers, numbers, numbers.

I hate that in organizing even text-only stuff I'm forced to embrace Excel and spreadsheets. It happens to me at work all the time, and I smile and nod and input data. But I just don't feel the true love. Indeed, I'm not sure that the spreadsheet isn't plotting against me. One day, it might just up and mix up all of my cells, or change all of my text dates into discombobulated numbers.

O Excel! What are you doing to us! To our brains! To our knowledge of the alphabet! To our souls!

What is the solution, you ask? How can we keep ourselves from being blinded by the false promises of spreadsheets?

More martinis are the answer.

Think about this, friends.

Food for thought (Thanks Grad School Avenger! You saved my blog!):PowerPoint is Evil


  • I briefly flirted with Excel earlier this year while working at McGill (they offered a seductive workshop), but like yourself, I have an amicable aversion to numbers.

    My personal weakness, however, seems to have been PowerPoint, which I have been toying with (teasing, really), on and off, for some time. Edward Tufte has written a parallel treatise to your tirade on Excel, which might interest you: http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/11.09/ppt2.html

    And yes, more martinis are always the answer!

    By Blogger Grad School Avenger, at 1:22 p.m.  

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