Art isn’t found only on the canvas, the stage, or the page. Sometimes, says David Greusel, creative expression is found on the spreadsheet:

Let’s interrogate the self-described non-creative person a bit more. He or she likely works in an office, where the inbox is filled with memoranda and spreadsheets. Drawing and painting seem as remote as a Tahitian island.

But let’s look at her work a little more closely. That spreadsheet, for example—the one that evaluates a range of vendors, their costs and ostensible benefits. For most of us, a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet is a tabular array of numbers. Many of my architect peers don’t even know that Excel has mathematical functions built into it. In the hands of this imaginary worker, however, a spreadsheet is a nearly-magical tool that allows the exploration of a multiplicity of options at lightning speed. Our “non-creative” friend has written formulae that analyze, compare, project, and slice the vendors’ data from every conceivable angle, the way a sculptor analyzes a stone before taking a mallet and chisel to it. Embedded in seemingly boring rows of numbers is a great underlying intelligence, enabled by Microsoft but applied by our friend, getting at the real meaning of the vendors’ data while stripping out all of the superfluous chatter. A spreadsheet that presents information clearly, so that it can be understood easily and used to make decisions, is indeed a beautiful thing.

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Articles by Joe Carter

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