Simon Hurst issues an angry riposte to short-sighted characterisations of those who seek to promote good use of technology as “geeks and nerds”.
In the introduction to a recent article on Excel 2013 (since amended, with apologies - Ed.) I was described as a “self-confessed geek”. Not long ago a comment to one of my posts suggested I was a “nerd”.
Both these terms cause me some concern. Not particularly from any sense of personal affront (I’ve spent the last 25 years lecturing on Excel and general IT to rooms full of accountants – I’ve been called worse). What worries me about being called a geek or a nerd is what it says about those who use those, or similar terms.
I am sure that, over the years, I have been guilty of sometimes writing about overly obscure aspects on Excel but I’d argue, reasonably vehemently, that most of the articles I contribute cover what should be mainstream Excel skills. To dismiss these as the preserve of the geek and the nerd is to suggest that basic Excel competence is beyond the grasp of the average accountant. Given that most accountants have to grapple with the complexities of the UK tax system, most of Excel should seem like light relief.
Of course, I understand that successive governments have inflicted so heavy a compliance and administration burden on accountants that it is hard to find the time to devote to other skills – such as IT and Excel. However, for most accountants, the basic knowledge of Excel that forms the bulk of Excel Zone content should really have been learnt as part of the education system, particularly for those with a professional qualification.
Nearly all accountants use, or are responsible for the use of, spreadsheets. Used properly they can be a vital tool, not only in saving time and improving productivity, but also in delivering a better product to clients. Used badly they waste massive amounts of time and contribute to career-threatening errors.
The dismissal of those who attempt to deal with practical ways to get the most out of such a key technology as “geeks and nerds” suggests a significant failure by those responsible for training accountants at all levels.
That’s why I’d rather not be called a geek or a nerd.
Of course, if you are happy that the articles are relevant and practical, and just use the term geek because you think I enjoy it all too much, then that’s fine.
About John Stokdyk
John Stokdyk is the global editor of AccountingWEB UK and AccountingWEB.com.