Entropy Gradient Reversals
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Ships In the Night:
The 666 Exit Interview

Entropy Gradient Reversals -- the collective entity formerly known as clocke -- is getting out! Out of the internet.web-as-surefire-moneymaker biz, out of the whole sad software industry, and perhaps most significantly, out of the 666 Corporation (already familiar to readers of EGR Release 0.07). We feel liberated, as if a great weight had been lifted from us.

We'll soon be heading for the hills -- the Rocky Mountains to be more specific -- where we will magically transmogrify ourselves into the Vice President for Business Development of a little outfit so obscure that nobody's ever heard of it outside of a small coterie of individuals so technical they are only let out at night. Displaytech, among a number of other things we could barely grasp, makes really-really tiny hi-rez displays. Think CRT-on-a-chip. Think virtual screen real estate enabling full-motion cinemascope video perched on your nose in the form of modified bifocals that let you surf late-breaking business news with one eye while downloading the erotica binaries of your choice with the other. Think a nation of cross-eyed-but-happy digerati!

...though our new colleagues probably wouldn't have put it quite that way.

As we'll be saying all kinds of laudatory things about this company via other channels (we really were extremely impressed both by the core technology they have patented six ways to Sunday, as well as by the obscene amount of cash they offered for our services), we will probably never mention this outfit again in the pages of EGR. Conflict of interest sort of thing, you understand. After all, we wouldn't want to give the impression that we could be bought!

However, it bears mentioning that a Very High Official at Displaytech has been a charter subscriber to EGR from its inception, and that our latest (RageBoy®) issue played no small part in this mid-stream change of corporate horses. Readers may rest assured that this fine organization, while incurring no liability for our views -- they remain ours and ours alone, as always -- will also make no attempt to sway our balanced and independent editorial judgment. For that, we will continue to rely strictly upon informed industry sources, unstinting primary-source research, and whatever the fuck we feel like saying at any given moment with no regard whatsoever for those to whom our offhand opinions may do irreparable harm. We take our principled irresponsibility in such matters as our sacred bond with the ever-growing collection of eyeballs that you, our Valued Subscribers, represent.

But we digress from the theme, which -- we can only hope -- will cost your company the balance of the hour you've already decided to waste with us. In spite of the unbridled school's-out joy we feel at saying sayonara to 666, we also figured we owed it to our erstwhile employer to share something of what we have discovered during our brief tenure at this Fortune-10 monolith. We believe we learned quite a bit. Imagining, perhaps foolishly, that this experience might prove of some value to the firm, we rang up the company's Chairman, Lew Firstner.

It seems entirely fitting that, on the eve of this long-awaited Labor Day weekend -- our culture's only formal monument to institutionalized slackery -- we should present this heartfelt farewell to one of America's Truly Great Companies.

Who Knew Lew?

EGR: Hey there Lew! How's it hangin?

Lew Firstner: ...uh, do I know you?

EGR: Probably not. But I've been working for you for a year-and-change, and since I'm about to split any day now, I thought I'd introduce myself and share some of my experiences in your terrific company.

Lew Firstner: Oh I see. Well, that's certainly good of you... (muffled, offline: Lucy, how in Christ's name did this call get through on my private line?!)

EGR: Yeah, it's been a real trip!

Lew Firstner: Precisely where do you sit in the organization Mr... uh, I didn't get your name...

EGR: You can call me clocke, but my friends call me RageBoy.

Lew Firstner: Rage boy? (Lucy, tell security to run a trace on this. I'll try to keep him talking...) And which part of the organization did you say you were in?

EGR: The Internet division. I've been working with the infoSkag group.

Lew Firstner: That's odd, I wasn't aware we had an Internet Division. Of course, I'm glad to know we do. If you say so.

EGR: Oh yes. It's part of the whole Network Eccentric Computing thing you got going last Fall when you were featured in that Business Week cover story. I must say, sir, that was a brilliant coup! Especially since the panel you had asked for some sort of recommendations about the Internet hadn't yet returned with anything useful. In fact, I wonder, did they ever get back to you?

Lew Firstner: Now, which panel was this?

EGR: You know, those Good Old Boys you sent off on that Internet bug hunt in the summer of 95? You remember. It was right after you all decided that you couldn't afford to read one more Journal article about the World Wide Web without having at least some notion of what they were talking about...

Lew Firstner: Oh yes, it's coming back to me now. Network Eccentric Computing is an important part of our message now, as you say. We feel it is the major contribution this company will make to the 21st Century.

EGR: That's real good to hear, sir. We feel that way too.

To Boldly Go -- Period

Lew Firstner: So then why are you leaving us? You did say you were leaving 666, did you not?

EGR: Basically, I felt so inspired by your leadership that I decided it was time for me to make my own contribution -- except I'm shooting for the 23rd Century. All the Major Contributions seem to be taken up till then.

Lew Firstner: I see. So you're starting a new company of some sort. Is that it.

EGR: Yup. It's called Entropy Gradient Reversals. I wonder if you'd consider being on our Board?

Lew Firstner: That sounds a little out of my line, actually. I don't really know much about high energy physics.

EGR: You're being too modest. After all, you don't know anything about computing either, but that didn't stop you from taking on 666.

Lew Firstner: True. But I'm afraid a Board position is out of the question. (Lucy, are they getting anything yet?) Besides, you haven't told me much about this Energy Ingredient Replacements startup. What is it you plan to offer.

EGR: Oh, I don't know. This and that.

Lew Firstner: I have to say that doesn't sound like much of a business strategy...

EGR: Well, we thought we'd emulate the Fortune 500 in that regard. You know, kinda keep em guessing.

Lew Firstner: Have you done market research?

EGR: Oh yes, of course. We've been conducting online focus groups of a sort. You might be interested in some of the people we've spoken to and their attitudes about online commerce.

Lew Firstner: Actually, yes, I'd be quite interested in hearing what you've found there...

Lew Meets Media Whore

EGR: Well, for instance, there's this one web site called Gap-Toothed -- it's for people who have large spaces between their front teeth. They thought we were pretty cool. And Geek Girl liked us, but then she said she was too busy. It happens. I think you might like Geek Girl though. You want her email address in Australia? Maybe she'd do an interview with you or something. That could get you some credibility at least. Couldn't hurt.

Lew Firstner: "Geek Girl" you say? (Lucy, for God's sake!)

EGR: Yeah, she's pretty far out. And then there's Media Whore. She's got a site that'd really fry your brainstem! In fact, I think it even has a picture of you in it.

Lew Firstner: I didn't think there were many girls online. Tell me, do they uh... Do they like pictures too?

EGR: What kind of pictures are we talking here, sir?

Lew Firstner: Well, maybe we'd better not go into that right now. I have to say I still don't have any idea what this Enervated Gentry Rebuttals is all about. What are your product plans?

EGR: Oh that. Well, we plan to interview Industry Leaders like yourself and publish them for the many people now coming online seeking to better understand the businesses that serve them.

Lew Firstner: Well, yes, I can see a need for that. By the way, was the purpose of your call to request an interview?

EGR: Oh no, sir. We would never ask for something like that. We would never make such a request.

Lew Firstner: Good. Because we do only a very limited number of interviews and our PR people have to go through quite a lot of preparation first.

EGR: You mean like telling you what to say?

Lew Firstner: That's part of it, of course. This is a large company, as I'm sure you are aware, and no one person can be expected to know it all. It's a team effort.

Whaddya Know...

EGR: Since you mention that, just out of curiosity, is there any area you do know about? I mean, in a kind of non-team, personal sense?

Lew Firstner: Well, I'm quite fascinated with this whole Web notion. Of course, they won't let me have a computer of my own, but I do see the occasional screen here and there in my travels about the company. Some of them are quite stunning, I must say. I once saw a thing where you could put in a credit card number. Maybe you've seen this too. Do you know what I'm talking about?

EGR: uh... yeah, I think I do recall seeing that site. (I wonder how Lucy's doing. He's clearly beginning to crack...) They've got these little boxes you can type into, and like that?

Lew Firstner: Yes, that's it precisely! Of course, I don't know who did that work. I keep asking my people to find out for me but they can't seem to get outside our firewalls.

EGR: But what wonderful firewalls they are, sir. You have a lot to be proud of there. No hackers inside 666, that's for sure!

Lew Firstner: You seem fairly knowledgeable in these matters. Maybe I can ask you a question. Do you think this whole online thing is really like CB radio? A lot of my lieutenants seem to think so. And God knows, we're losing money on it like crazy. But I'm starting to think maybe these Netscape people are onto something. I hear we even did a deal to let them use their browser in 0U/812. Frankly, I don't know why we'd lend them that kind of credibility -- and we had to pay them to use our brand, which I really don't understand at all. But some of my people tell me our browser isn't quite up to snuff.

EGR: Was the word "dogshit" used, sir?

Dogshit Explained

Lew Firstner: How's that?

EGR: Oh sorry, that's a term we technical types sometimes use to indicate deep respect for cutting edge core technologies. You know how some African Americans will say "bad" when they really mean good? It's that kind of thing...

Lew Firstner: What is an African American?

EGR: Never mind. Just trust me on this one. Dogshit's what you got.

Lew Firstner: I see. I'll have to remember that one. So, would you say Bloatus Moats is "dogshit" too?

EGR: Oh yes, absolutely. In fact, perhaps this is an opportunity to share a little marketing idea I had recently.

Lew Firstner: And what is that?

EGR: Well, you know how we said "Get Warped" with OU/812? Maybe we could say "Get Curbed" with respect to Bloatus Moats. It's just a thought...

Lew Firstner: I'll run it past our Marketing People. You may have something there. Of course, I don't make those kinds of decisions personally.

EGR: If you don't mind my asking, what exactly is it that you do? I know it must be important because everyone speaks of you in such hushed -- I'd almost say reverent -- tones. But I never did get a very good idea of what it was...

Lucy (offline): Mr. Firstner, they say they're getting something from the 203 exchange...

Lew Firstner (hissing): (For Pete's sake, Lucy, write it on a goddam notepad! Don't let this cretin know we're tracing him! I've got him thinking I actually give a shit about some demented plan he's describing to me here...)

EGR: Excuse me? I didn't catch that.

Lew Firstner: Oh, I was just telling my secretary to, uh, give a shipping bill to someone cemented to the LAN.

EGR: Gosh, I just love it when you talk that way. It reminds me of those encouraging personal notes you always sent around to all 200,000 employees on BARFS.

Lew Firstner: Yes, well, I think it's important to keep in touch with the troops.

EGR: Always appreciated. I'll miss those.

Lew Firstner: So, uh, you still haven't really told me the substance of your business case for Tropical Graveyard Removals. Is it a sort of Rain Forest thing? My people tell me that's quite a hot area these days.

EGR: The tropics, sir?

Lew Firstner: No, no. The whole recycling craze. You know, eco-whatever. Some very large opportunities there. Or so I hear.

EGR: Well, not exactly. EGR is more about memic amplification and enhancement, you could say.

Lew Firstner: Oh that. I see.

EGR: Yes, we had some early successes, and had hoped this might follow in that vein, but frankly, it's turned out to be pretty boring.

Lew Firstner: This? What do you mean, "this"?

EGR: Why, the recording we've been making of our little chat, of course.

Lew Firstner: «click»

EGR: OK team, looks like that's all we're gonna get from the dude. Transcribe the tape and mark it up. It's pretty thin but our market boys are telling us only 3% of EGR subscribers read past the first graph anyway, so it'll probably fly as an issue and nobody'll take much notice.

Editorial: You want we should work in the usual innuendos, boss? Like say some backscatter on the Olympic crash-and-burn fiasco? There's also some juicy stuff we could milk outta that 666 Argentine caper...

Legal: Nah, it's been done to death. The targets are way too easy. Just give us verbatim copy. We'll take care of the rest. Maybe some subtly actionable hint about lewd gifs. A racial slur, perhaps? That'd be more in keeping with our style...

EGR: Whatever. God I just hate this shit. But what the hell. Somebody's gotta do it I suppose...

Entropy Gradient Reversals
All Noise - All the Time


Some of you have inquired whether I'm still at IBM. The answer is still yes -- but not for long. As always, 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


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