20,000 years ago Paleolithic humans had the Ishango Bone. Today Amazon Web Services is pitching to help the Pentagon track their possessions with cloud computing worth billions. That’s quite a journey for accountability.
The Ishango bone is possibly the world’s oldest counting tool. It was found in the 1960s in the Congo, near the border of Uganda.
And at the other extreme, we all know how the rise of cloud computing is changing our lives. Online accounting services are just a fraction of it.
But the history of accounting over those twenty millennia is more than a story of updated hardware. The greater story is how humans invented a system of tracking not just objects, but the rights to those objects.
That is what makes the difference between simple tallying and accounting. Accounting tracks not only what objects of value you have, but also who has claims on them.
Tallying is “What". Accounting is both "What" and "Whose." This duality of having and claiming is what gives a balance sheet its two sides.
The next stage of the journey is solving how to take care of what we all share, like the oceans and the atmosphere.
By Ben2 - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,