2004-11-18

Cube Farm

There's a great word in German, Verriss. Ask Google, and you get this review of a Renée Fleming concert in Dortmund. Only review isn't the right word. Verriss is.

It's like "review", but with overtones of "scathing" and "contemptuous".

Imagine a Mac user forced to review Linux.

In fact, a good computer-related example is Jamie Zawinski's linux usability ...or, why do I bother, the article that taught me the word "fucktard". Search for "computer's speakers" for another laugh.

Anyway, now there's another computer-related example. Bill Blunden's "Cube Farm", an entertaining Verriss of a software company called Lawson.

I'd heard the name "Lawson" before, because they have an office next to Sun in Bracknell, GB. I hadn't a clue what they do, and if this book's to be believed, neither have they.

I knew I was going to enjoy this book when I got as far as the part where he's talking about the difficulties of getting a job as a physicist, and the paragraph "Adam Smith's invisible hand was giving me the middle finger" made me laugh out loud.

If you think reading about all the worst bits of all the jobs you've had amplified and rolled into one would be depressing, you're wrong. It's like background reading for "Fight Club". Instead of starting with the "Fight Club" premise, this book is a collection of evidence. Reasons why we might want to stand up and be counted with Tyler.

But forget society. What I want to know is how Lawson is still standing after the publication of this book. Either no-one believes it, no-one of importance has read it, or the acceptance of failure that Blunden talks about reaches far beyond Lawson.

And thinking about it, it wouldn't be so familiar and funny if we didn't recognize milder forms of the same diseases.

The scariest part is that even now, the author doesn't seem to know what a repository is. Google's automatic dictionary link for repository isn't very enlightening (and would be positively misleading to someone in a business like Lawson's). Maybe it wasn't just the guy who did the NT port who had to download the nightly source drops from an FTP server?

I did wonder if that, and other things such as the use of "dummy terminal" for "dumb terminal" wasn't just an attempt to be more authentic. "See: look how little I learned". Like misspellings on an Italian restaurant's menu, or waiters who put on an accent.

Maybe it's time I donned my tin-foil hat...