We make tools. But tools also make us.

Tool_eye_by_Lisarama89Thinking about this article on spreadsheets from 1984, I wonder how much spreadsheets and their pervasive use have changed culture, changed the world in nearly-unobservable (directly, anyway) ways.

I call it the tyranny of the quantifiable. A certain class of people believe that if something can be measured and has been measured, it’s all that is important. Conversely if something can’t be measured easily or perhaps at all, no matter how obvious to anyone sane that it exists, it is in fact not real.

This pervades MBA and engineering thinking and seems to be getting worse rather than better, perhaps in reaction to a less-stable world.

A sociological study (formal or informal) of the effects of spreadsheets and spreadsheet-generated thought on the world would be really interesting.