I recently trained as a bookkeeper to diversify my skills and bring new functions to my workplace. It’s not much like my official role as a science writer, but it was a natural fit for someone as comfortable with spreadsheets as I am. Entering this distinct sphere was an interesting experience that broadened my horizons more than I expected. Bookkeepers are the unsung heroes of so many human endeavors, places where records all combine and become comprehensible summaries to guide the future. Bookkeeping is an extraordinarily old profession, and its current form traces back to the practices of 14th-century Venetian merchants.
Despite literally predating capitalism, bookkeeping is also one of the places where the base logic of capitalism sneaks into our lives, and it starts with the accounting equation.