ramblings of an aimless mind

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The new God?

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Incident 1:
I was at a WorldSpace store the other day and it felt like a jungle. The sales persons prowled like predators, picking out the visitors most likely to spend money on a satellite radio system, once the quarry was sighted, they stalked, encouraging people to try on the headphones and enjoy the smooth transmission and excellent music quality. The client's look then went from that of incredulity to admiration and they lunged for the kill, explaining the low prices, the finance schemes, the area covered by the transmission and in general, why any living human MUST own one of these. It was a ruthless scene.

My friend had been singled out and was currently being stalked, which means he had headphones on and that look of "I-can-tell-every-nuance-of-music" expression on his face. I think most salespeople regard me as stingy, or maybe there is something in the way I say "I'm just looking" that tells them they should not waste their time, but mostly I am left alone in stores and this was no exception. Unwilling to see my friend falling prey, I started looking around and noticed a computer in the corner. Being a quintessential geek, it grabbed my attention long enough for me to notice that the person using it had a Microsoft Excel file open with fields such as "SalesPerson", "Weekly Target" and "Sales" in bold and other characters and numbers below each. Everytime a salesperson clinched a deal, he/she would walk over, get his/her figures updated and then plunge back into the fray.
Incident 2:

About a year ago, I noticed that one of my salary slips was showing a smaller number in the column where I would like numbers to as big as humanly possible. Fearing that I was the latest victim of the extremely volatile IT industry, I rushed to the finance department to ensure that it was a mistake and I was not really demoted from software engineer to the guy who lugs around boxes of printer paper. A few hours later the finance department did admit it was a mistake (much to my relief) and said that it was caused by a wrong formula in the Excel sheet they used.

For the past two years that I have spent in the IT industry, there has probably not been a single day which has gone by without the use of an Excel sheet. Anything and everything from project status, bug count, resource allocation, and even some of the UI screen documentation was done in Excel. I thought it was a wonderful tool, so useful that it has left the other members of its Office suite far behind, but it never occured to me that it was something beyond a tool…

…till the day it lowered my salary.

…till the time I saw it govern the lives of the Worldspace radio salespeople.

It was then that I realised, in today's world, the excel sheet is present everywhere, knows everything and has tremendous power. In short, it is Omnipresent, Omniscient and Omnipotent.

And the only other being who has so far been attributed with these characteristics?

…none other than God Himself (or Herself to be politically correct).
Such is the power of the "humble" excel sheet that I now believe that every human in the world is somewhere, somehow accountable to an Excel sheet. It governs how much we earn, how we are evaluated by employers/peers/juniors, how much money we have in our banks and how much our stocks are worth. In fact, when Doomsday finally arrives, I wont be too surprised to see a giant Excel sheet with columns such as "Name" "Sin Count" "Good deed count" "Heaven/Hell"  and everybody will be fervently hoping that they have the right values in the right places. Think about it, what better way to classify 6 billion people?

I wonder if it is time to replace our normal religious icons with those pretty MS Excel packaging boxes, or maybe the CDs since they are the ones that actually contain the software. I think for now, I will stick to my routine of worshipping the holy trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva, if only I can get rid of that nagging feeling that somewhere deep inside the offices that manage the affairs of every temple, there is an Excel sheet running the show…


Written by clueso

May 14, 2006 at 11:04 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

5 Responses

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  1. :-):-), Another thing is that, most project managers in Indian software companies would be deprived of work… if only there was no excel…


    May 15, 2006 at 5:14 pm

  2. so true!! 🙂 excel seriously seems to have taken over everything else…one product that i think microsoft would be truly proud of 🙂


    May 18, 2006 at 10:41 am

  3. dude … never knew you had a blog …

    btw here in IIMA one of the first things they teach us is excel … and trust me that thing does control a fair bit of world money … especially when you consider all the I-bankers using it


    September 3, 2006 at 4:31 am

  4. ash, I dont think your version of god exists in my life! prefer to use matlab for most graphing purposes since excel graphs stink! I never got into the habit of accounting (not required for a peanut graduate stipend)…so I have never actually got a chance to excel in excel.


    October 22, 2006 at 5:28 am

  5. Hey, even the paap/punya accounts are maintained in excel by Mr. chitragupta.
    I didnt know you blogged! Kewl bakwaas!


    October 30, 2006 at 7:12 pm

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