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I join many others in finding myself most apprehensive about current times. It is not just the human suffering that the Coronavirus inflicts, nor the mounting economic burden that a world on standby creates. It is something else. Put bluntly, it is the worry that this world is the best we can do, that what we have created is impotent in the face of a microbial onslaught. There will be a rethink no doubt, but I am concerned it is beyond our collective willingness to pursue.

This is a thought which wakes me in the middle of the night. Yet it is not just the virus that is intruding my subconscious: climate change also has its vuvuzela to its lips. Our complex and over-crowded world has partied on its natural resources and now is being served the bill. The way we have chosen to live has made this bill high. But who is going to pay? Everyone around the table seems to have lost their wallet. With Coronavirus now on the menu, many will be tempted to run for the door without paying.

It is therefore comforting to find a place where I can go temporarily and set aside these concerns – a world which I can control and which is strangely satisfying. This is the world of Microsoft Excel. Please hear me out.

I am modelling the economic performance of a sustainable multi-sided market in Excel. The transactions of multiple fictitious groups within a community are represented by numbers and formulae across thousands of cells. The objective? To show that the interaction of these groups can stimulate more sustainable economic value than the status quo.

Working inside this numerical construct is calming. It is safe, it is predictable. It keeps my mind ordered and focused. It is stimulating too as I attempt to represent the real world in clearly something that is highly abstract. But perhaps the most beneficial effect is the hope this brings, that there is an alternative way of working together post-Corona. For that, I would like to thank Microsoft.

© David Arscott April 2020