As this is meant to be a digital economy site I thought I might rip off an item from Plum Solutions that provides a really interesting example of just how useful the web has become for developing human knowledge.
What they were providing was a list of online resources to assist people using Excel for financial modelling. Spreadsheets some may now were the original "killer ap" for the PC, with VisiCalc for the AppleII and the original Lotus 1-2-3 for the initial IBM platform. While they have come a long way from there the advances have mostly been in formatting options and built in formulae. But the biggest single change has been their ability to handle larger quantities of data.
The suggestions from Plum were;
* The LinkedIn Financial Modelling in Excel group. The LinkedIn groups in general are a good way to access people interested in your field. Knowledge Management professionals will talk a lot about creating virtual groups of experts across an organisation. LinkedIn shows how to do it across the globe. Interesting question - do the really large knowledge based organisations like the consulting firms run their own social networking sites. I know that at least one Government Department (actually DBCDE) tried to do so but it didn't seem to get much use.
* Pointy Haired Dilbert is a fascinating blog for the heavy-duty Excel user. Plum suggest that if you subscribe, barely a day goes by without a fascinating tip or Excel tidbit.
* Accotding to Plum www.financialmodelingguide.com and the related www.finance30.com have a huge following and are great resources on general finance as well as Financial Modelling. These are very much focussed on the "finance" part of financial modelling.
* Plum refers to the discussion forum on Financial Mechanics site as "the entertaining Swamp Fox" newsletter and user forum. Possibly interesting stuff, again very much for the financial.
* Meanwhile Vertex 24 is described as a guide to Excel in everything and includes loads of templates and calculators.
* Corality is an interesting firm that specialises in the audit of models. They provide a blog that Plum claims "has lots of Financial Modelling and Excel-related topics".
* Others suggested by Plum are Navigator Project Finance which has a blog together with free tutorials and other resources to download, and Access Analytic which has a "knowledge area".
Plum concludes by noting that for plain Excel stuff, you can always head straight to the Microsoft user discussion groups
Plum readers also offered other useful links. Mohit Khurana provided a link to his own ExcelMatic blog. Another reader promoted speadsheetzon.com which describes itself as "one of the biggest Excel template repositories on the web".
The purpose of this post wasn't just to mercilessly ripoff the Plum post nor just to make abn interesting repository of these links for leter use - it was to show off just how much the web increases the accessiblity of this kind of knowledge.
My only disappointment...none of the links seemed to refer to the Mathematica kernel for Excel, and they were all financial modelling biased (the place spreadsheets made their own). I'm more interested in the statistical/econometric capabilities, and in the possibility of using Excel as a platform for conducting agent-based modelling (why - because CELLS look like natural homes for parameters for agents (which could be rows) - new sheets for each new time period - and lots of mathematical functions are available).