Analysis (Services and Self)

Koan Bremner's view on life as a database and data warehouse professional / addict and non-genetic woman

Saturday, November 13, 2004


"Why do I read what I read?" Quite why that philosphical question popped into my head this morning as I sat, clutching a mug of coffee, waiting for my laptop to chug into life, I've no idea. But in it popped. So I took a quick look at the blogs and RSS feeds I check, at the usenet newsgroups I watch, at the categories on my browser favourites, and wondered if there was a theme lurking there. Well, maybe; but before I got too far, I realised that the biggest category seems to be what I would call "commentators", i.e. writers who see the world in a different way to the majority, and who capture what they see in clear, entertaining and challenging prose. I don't have to agree with them (I have a brain, and I like to use it) in order to enjoy their writing. So after a cursory inspection of who was on that list (e.g. in no particular order William Gibson, Wil Wheaton, Naomi Klein for starters) I wondered "who's *not* on that list?", i.e. whose writing do I really enjoy and admire, but for whom I don't regularly scour? And the first name that popped into my head was Douglas Coupland. And then came the "D'oh!" moment...

So, I could have seen Coupland live on the 10th or 14th of October... but I only find out that fact today, the 13th of November. Typical!

I first encountered his writing when I read the opening chapter of "Microserfs" in some weekend magazine or other (can't remember which). Ostensibly the story of a disparate group of techies who leave Microsoft to found their own software company, the episode that caught my attention was of one of the programmers who locks himself in his office and requests that food be passed to him under the door; so, things like processed cheese slices become a staple of his diet. A few years before I read that, a friend of mine had suggested that the ideal job for me would be one where I sat in an office and had problems passed to me under the door, which I would solve and pass back under the door, without actually needing to meet people. This same friend convinced a pile of *his* friends (who hadn't, at that point, met me) that he worked with someone (me) who'd devised the plan by which NASA docked with and repaired the Hubble space telescope. When I met this circle of people some time after, I had some difficulty convincing them that I'd had absolutely nothing to do with Hubble... But I digress. (Actually, it occurs to me that some of my current workmates might think that such an arrangement might still suit me; and them.)

Anyway, some time later I kept seeing Coupland name-checked as a key creative influence; when I read an interview with Thom Yorke of Radiohead in which he cited "Generation X" as a seminal inspiration for much of the band's early work, I felt it was time to read that book (and others). Funny, sad, insightful, thought-provoking... in my opinion, Coupland is a brilliant observer of the world around him. I was genuinely affected by "Girlfriend in a Coma" in a way that few books have ever achieved.

So, finding that he writes a blog would be the icing on the cake that sank when I learned that I'd missed the opportunity to see him perform live. As yet, I haven't found that he writes a blog; but if anyone can inform me otherwise, I'll be most grateful!

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