Rise and Fall of the Gatekeepers -or- Why I Blog

I’m very excited that Dave Albrecht of The Summa invited me to join him and a panel of bloggers at this year’s AAA National Meeting in Washington DC*. I feel particularly intimidated to serve on a panel with such illustrious bloggers as Prof. Albrecht, Anthony Catanach of Grumpy Old Accountants**, the indomitable Edith Orenstein*** of FEI’s Financial Reporting Blog, and Jim Peterson of re:Balance. Since many people read their blogs, but not mine, I’m not quite sure what I’m supposed to say or do on this panel – perhaps to show our colleagues how not to blog?

Why I Blog

I came across a wonderful infographic about the record industry at Total Bankruptcy:

Infographic courtesy of http://www.totalbankruptcy.com/

I have fond memories of taking the bus to Korvettes, in Hempstead, NY or to Sam Goody in Valley Stream to buy records and cassettes. The internet wiped that industry out, like many others. The record industry was a “gatekeeper” industry – it analyzed information (music), and then distributed it. So, too, are bookstores, video stores,  newspapers, encyclopedias, magazines, and network news programs. So, too, are accountants.  We used to have Evening News with Dan Rather, but now we have the Drudge Report, Google News, and Wikileaks. What havoc will this disruptive innovation wreak on accountants, the gatekeepers of financial information?

(This is not to mention the precarious position we academics live in. Like accountants, colleges and universities also stand woefully unprepared for the oncoming information onslaught. As an accounting professor, I’m in double trouble here.)

And yet, like all of the gatekeepers who have fallen right in front of us, we accountants fight this trend by taking care to continue to always do things the same way that we did them last year, unless we can find ways to do them a little faster or cheaper. (Why did the auditor cross the road? Because they did it last year.) Sure, now we post PDF and HTML files on the web. But face it: the greatest innovation in how we use technology to present information – XBRL – is not much more than a database classification tool that could have been implemented 30 years ago. Even though we accountants are in the business of creating and distributing information, I can think of no other major initiative that speaks to the need to develop new and interactive ways to create and distribute accounting information in the Age of Web 2.0. Our leadership, our regulators and the accounting firms are still trying to catch up with globalization (“IFRS Conquers the World!” the AICPA’s new “Global Managerial Accounting Credential”).

Accountants are completely unprepared for the disruptive innovation that the Internet will soon unleash on us.

The easiest little thing that an accounting professor like myself can do to embrace and anticipate these changes is to blog. I want to be able to say that I came into this whole internet thing at the beginning. And I want to learn all about how it works.**** I’m not sure anyone reads my blog, and Prof. Dave Albrecht and my own mother are the only two people who ever admitted to reading and liking it. But I don’t care. I’m ready for change.

I approach blogging in an exploratory way – I try out different things to see what will happen. Therefore I run three different blogs:

  1. Freaking Accountant is for accountants and accounting professors. I also encourage students to write guest posts for it.
  2. The Accountinator is for young entrepreneurs who want/need to learn something about accounting. It also has become popular with students looking for basic information about accounting (like “what’s a balance sheet”).
  3. Freaking Important, my newest blog, feeds off of another passion of mine – organization and productivity.

Blogging will very likely develop into something very different, something we can hardly imagine. However, ready or not, the continuous flow of information that comes through the internet, customized for each user according to their wants and needs, will continue to rise, and will soon surround us accountants on all sides. Are you ready?

Citation corrected on August 8, 2012 – this great infographic comes from totalbanktupcy.com.


* Actually, the convention is in Maryland.

** I attended my PhD program with Anthony’s wife, Shelly Rhodes-Catanach.

*** Edith is a fellow North-Jerseyan – I’ve worked with her on FEI projects for quite some time now.

**** I also blog because it’s really fun to use this new Windows 8 Slate.


About Mark P. Holtzman

Chair of Accounting Department at Seton Hall University. PhD from The University of Texas at Austin. Worked at Deloitte's New York Office. BSBA from Hofstra University.

One comment

  1. Pingback: Miscellaney « The Summa

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