Pluralistic: The seductive, science fictional power of spreadsheets (29 Apr 2023)

Today’s links The seductive, science fictional power of spreadsheets: Maybe the map IS the territory? Hey look at this: Delights to delectate. This day in history: 2003, 2008, 2013, 2018, 2022 Colophon: Recent publications, upcoming/recent appearances, current writing projects, current reading The seductive, science fictional power of spreadsheets (permalink) This week, John Scalzi was kind enough to let me write a guest-editorial for his Whatever blog about the themes in my new crime technothriller, Red Team Blues; specifically, about the ways that spreadsheets embody the power and the pitfalls of science fiction at its best and worst: Yes, spreadsheets. Marty Hench (the protagonist of Red Team Blues) is a 67-year-old forensic accountant who specializes in unwinding Silicon Valley financial frauds, a field he basically invented 40 years ago, when, as a PC-struck MIT dropout, he moved from Cambridge to San Francisco to recover the stolen millions hidden in spreadsheets. Working through this book – and its two sequels, which travel back in time to the 1980s and Marty’s first encounters with VisiCalc and Lotus 1-2-3 – I was struck by the similarities between spreadsheets and science fiction. While many people use spreadsheets as an overgrown calculator, adding up long columns of numbers, the rise and rise of spreadsheets comes from their use in modeling. Using a spreadsheet, a complex process can be expressed as a series of mathematical operations: we put these inputs into the factory and we get these finished goods. Once the model is built, we can…Pluralistic: The seductive, science fictional power of spreadsheets (29 Apr 2023)

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