Blog by Sumana Harihareswara, Changeset founder
Douglas Coupland's Microserfs is very, very good. I found…
Hi, reader. I wrote this in 2002 and it's now more than five years old. So it may be very out of date; the world, and I, have changed a lot since I wrote it! I'm keeping this up for historical archive purposes, but the me of today may 100% disagree with what I said then. I rarely edit posts after publishing them, but if I do, I usually leave a note in italics to mark the edit and the reason. If this post is particularly offensive or breaches someone's privacy, please contact me.
Douglas Coupland's Microserfs is very, very good. I found myself returning to it after I'd finished, locating plot twists and insights. Its style reminds me of weblogs, since it's in diary-to-unspecified-audience form, and it's inspiringly good. I'd rather not write anything here that wouldn't be good enough to go into Microserfs. Maybe that'll be my criterion from now on.
Over dinner I read some of Jon Stewart's Naked Pictures of Famous People. Not as knee-slappingly hilarious as I'd hoped, although the essays got better if I imagined them in Stewart's voice, as a monologue on The Daily Show.
For school, I started reading Sale of the Century: Russia's Wild Ride From Communism to Capitalism by Chrystia Freeland. I love hearing and reading about the end of the Communist regime in Russia. I love the stories of heroic dissidence and new liberties and glasnost and the hope. But it's so depressing to read about how the post-Soviet regimes have monumentally messed up a grand opportunity. It's like reading about Reconstruction and how it ended. (For people not familiar with US history, Reconstruction was the regime over the former Confederacy after our Civil War that aimed on reforming the South and giving blacks equality, both de facto and de jure, with whites.) Since my Russia After Communism class is now past the recap of Soviet history, and we'll now focus on the post-Communist period, I expect I'll get bummed rather often. I hope not.
In case you're wondering what got me on this whole Russia kick, the general list goes something like: Anna Karenina six years ago, and a weird masochistic desire to learn some unpopular (at UC Berkeley) and hard language, and -- I just remembered this recently -- a Wired article I read in 1998. At the time, I didn't even notice that it was by Bruce Sterling. It was the "Second World" sketch, a fascinating portrait of a fascinating situation. I also loved the other articles in that issue, a "First World" look at Silicon Valley and a "Third World" adventure in Africa on its way to wiredness. And that article on Russia is one reason I decided to go to St. Petersburg instead of Moscow, and so I met John and Katie and oh, I'm so glad.