Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Beware the excel spreadsheet - especially when it can destroy the economy!

A variety of links about the ubiquitous use of excel in business and about the dangers of poorly designed software and models. Excel is a great liberator and allows the masses to create many different models, it also allows the freedom create bad or incorrect models and its very ubiquity means that it is likely to end up at the center of some big mistakes.

 In my model creation I try to separate data from calculations in a spreadsheet and I am a big proponent of database style formats (read columns) because then I can run a pivot table or better yet, put the data into Tableau for visualization. But then again much of my personal fun work in excel are modesl and simulations or data manipulation that doesn't need much rigor and will only be used by me so I am free to be creative. I do remember programming in other languages when I was young and in graduate school but now I am stuck with just excel. 

This is a great link and great comment thread by programers who see the threat and promise of excel and how it fits into the bigger picture of creating software to do what the usefual spreadsheet was doing. 

A longer article from The Atlantic 

two more views on bad software from Baseline Scenario.

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