Support First Things by turning your adblocker off or by making a  donation. Thanks!

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.

Read more . . .

Dear Reader,

Your charitable support for First Things is urgently needed before July 1.

First Things is a proudly reader-supported enterprise. The gifts of readers like you— often of $50, $100, or $250—make articles like the one you just read possible.

This Spring Campaign—one of our two annual reader giving drives—comes at a pivotal season for America and the church. With your support, many more people will turn to First Things for thoughtful religious perspectives on pressing issues of politics, culture, and public life.

All thanks to you. Will you answer the call?

Make My Gift

Comments are visible to subscribers only. Log in or subscribe to join the conversation.



Filter First Thoughts Posts

Related Articles