Dear Valued Subscriber:
You know, people often stop me on the street and say, "Chris, you're a successful Internet Business Executive -- is there anything you can share with our young people that would speed them on their way toward Cyber-Success?"
This really got me to doing some deep thinking, I can tell you. The result is this subscription-only series of newsletters from Entropy Gradient Reversals, a terrific company that really cares about people like you and me!
Actually, the fact that you have decided to sign up for this series already says a lot about you. For one thing, it tells me you have one of the primary ingredients of a successful business person: knowing a good deal when you see one! It also tells me you are highly discriminating in your choice of personal associations online.
For these reasons I feel entirely confident in making the following guarantee. If the advice in this first issue alone doesn't increase your personal net worth by at least 30% over the coming quarter, you are entitled to a complete refund. That's right: if you're not absolutely convinced this program is working for you, you'll get every penny back. No questions asked.
Remember, making a killing on the Internet doesn't have to be hard. To paraphrase P.T. Barnum, there's a new Yahoo being born every minute on the World Wide Web. You just have to believe in yourself and have a lot of pride in a darn good product.
Here's wishing you the very best in the merchandising ventures I know you're all excited about getting underway. God bless you and this great country of ours. And don't forget to keep those cards and letters coming!
Chris "Go For It!" Locke
While I have fond memories of those times -- no doubt related to the fact that I was 30 years younger then -- most people who have done this, or closely noted it being done by others, would go to great lengths to avoid this less than stellar "lifestyle option." Which is why, historically, the upper middle class was such an overnight sensation.
There were strong social incentives, too. Along with membership in this elevated stratum went the White Collar Job. (Since you're reading this on the net, there's a fairly high probability that you have one of these.) From the height the whiteness of your shirt conferred, you could look down on lesser beings with a smarmy indifference paralleled only by what God must feel toward the human race on a particularly good day (his or hers, not ours).
You could feel that good carpet under your feet and look out from the warmth of high windows at the insignificant Ant People scurrying through the winter slush and muck. You were Management now. Ahhh, much better!
What you didn't get to hear through all that cozy fogging distance were the mutterings of workers beneath your contempt, and all too often, boot. If you'd been able to listen closely though you might have heard whispered suspicions that They didn't know what the hell They were doing. Didn't understand the products They made. Didn't understand the services They offered. Were basically out to some cosmic three-martini lunch.
But even then, would you have given this muted mumble any credence? After all, you were part of The Company now. And unlike the lumpenproletariat, you all had Degrees, which had taught you how to Think Abstractly -- and when that failed, how to kid yourself.
Then you got the downsizing notification. Well, maybe you didn't get it -- or at least not yet -- but plenty have. And this is doing something nasty to that fuzzy little dream of being one with the corporation. The fact is, as the corporation itself keeps telling us in various and far more prolix forms, it could almost give a shit.
Why am I writing about this here? Oh, I don't know. Call it deep background for what's to come. I mean, with all this talk about "corporate presence" on the Internet (a term I believe I coined, may I burn in hell), it becomes an interesting question, does it not, which bits will be present? Or is there some clever and effective way to edit out the disconcerting parts? After all, there was on television.
Hmmm, maybe you could put a firewall around your corporate presence. Not so much to keep the bad guys out as to keep your customers, Certain Workers, and the merely curious from seeing in. Maybe you could make it -- yeah, that's it! -- like one big ironclad LAN.
Except that this whole thing only works on trust. Trust me on this one: veiled shame and hastily backfilled vacuousness aren't going to work at all.
[Firewalls are the objective correlative of a corporate hubris that must continually convince itself it has developed something worth stealing. In the final analysis, they exist to prevent discovery of the emptiness of the premise.]
I'm seeing another flurry of reports just lately about businesses being wary, paranoid even, about the internet. You hear a lot about Data Security, but you know in your heart that isn't all of it. These fearful companies -- and running scaredest, those quickest to wield fear themselves, "to manage" -- know they have to jump the Internet Bandwagon, can't afford to be caught Behind the Curve. But still: it's not like you can just churn out another batch of clever ads, or put out yet-another riffy annual report.
There's something very spooky about all those people out there. They seem to want something. But what? Wait a minute. Aren't they, if you look r-e-a-l-l-y close... my god, yes: the Ant People! Could it be what they want is: your ass?
The merest flicker of this passing fancy will have a guilty conscience pulling down overtime at 4 am, trying desperately to get in touch with its long lost Inner Grunt.
hmmm, guess not. wouldn't move the product.
Listen, I'm not talking about White Militias here. Or some mail clerk going postal. I'm talking about the co-worker down the hall reading Dilbert on the Web all day, and playing Microsoft Hearts til her brain reaches the consistency of loosely scrambled eggs. Or the guy who's trying to look busy but you just know he's so bored a sharp blow to the head with a 2X4 would be far more intellectually stimulating than whatever it is he's pretending to do.
Is it just me, or is everybody really waiting for the other shoe to drop? What I find most interesting -- and this must be the spookiest for those companies freaked-out by the net -- is that these Kentucky-fried, electoshocked Ant People are slowly beginning to hook up. Doesn't matter whether it's by phone or email; point is, they're talking to each other and comparing notes over vast geographic and corporate-cultural distances. Do you ever overhear (or have) conversations that go anything like this?
"So hey, how's it going over there at Acme? Still breathing?"
"Barely. Guess what they decided to do last week. You're not gonna believe this one..." [real stupid thing is described]
"Well, that's nothing, you know what the bozos on this end cooked up? They musta been drunk as boiled owls..." [even more stupid thing is described]
"You know, there's gotta be a better way to make a living."
"Yeah, maybe this Internet thing..."
Both look serious for a second, then burst out laughing.
[Note: Send in your favorite Stupid Thing scenario. If it's selected for our EGR HomePage, you could win a toaster oven! -Ed.]
[We could give you a nice list of weather URLs instead. Would you like that?]
Somehow, with no particular logic, this recursively absorbed concentration on what is essentially plumbing reminds us of another odd phenomenon that has been uncritically enshrined in the past decade or so: the User Group. In the past year, I have spoken to two such -- focusing on the Internet, natch -- one in Boulder, the other in DC. By the second presentation, I found myself speculating aloud about whether there were groups like this in The Old Days. Do you think, for instance, when electrification was still a pretty new thing, that people got together to talk about their alternating current and strutted around like a bunch of damn fools with voltmeters dangling from their belts?
["You gettin true 60-cycle over at the Clampet place there, Jed?"]
And now we have Internet World. Overflow crowds in San Jose this week they tell me. I'll bet that was a regular hootenanny.
Nobody said it would be easy. But with your help at those keyboards we can realize and propagate our most mission-critical core value:
Some of you have asked whether I'm still at IBM. Absolutely. Of course, the views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of the organization as a whole. Just in case you wondered.
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Entropy Gradient Reversals CopyLeft Christopher Locke firstname.lastname@example.org http://www.rageboy.com
"reality leaves a lot to the imagination..." John Lennon
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