REVIEW: "In Search of Stupidity", Merrill R. Chapman
- BKISSTPD.RVW 20040802
"In Search of Stupidity", Merrill R. Chapman, 2003, 1-59059-104-6,
%A Merrill R. Chapman rickchapman@...
%C 2560 Ninth Street, Suite 219, Berkeley, CA 94710
%O U$24.99/C$35.00 510-549-5930 fax 510-549-5939 info@...
%P 252 p.
%T "In Search of Stupidity"
The book is presented as a treatise on management and marketing:
direction on how to succeed in the high tech environment where so many
have failed. In that regard it, too, fails. As a lightweight piece
of comic relief it might have a place.
Chapter one, an introduction, makes fun of "In Search of Excellence"
with 20/20 hindsight, but is short on detail. Overall, the point
seems to be reminiscent of Deming's (cf. BKDEMING.RVW): companies
succeed in some situations because they could hardly fail, and then
think they've done something right. For all of his anecdotes
supposedly proving that Chapman "was there" at the beginning of the
microcomputer revolution, he makes numerous mistakes. Orange Computer
was based in Ontario rather than Taiwan (the Peel 1.1 model was named
for the Peel Board of Education) and used a disk based load of much of
the material from the Apple boot ROM (not "BIOS") to avoid legal
issues over compatibility. The reduction in production of Apple
clones in the mid-1980s was not due to legal battles, but the
diminution of the entire Apple II market due to the introduction of
the IBM PC and the Macintosh. Chapter three rails against the
"chiclet" keyboard used on the "PC Jr" computer, but fails to note
that most computer keyboards are now this type. A confused and
erroneous discussion of versions of Microsoft Windows surrounds an
oddly disjointed account of how the author was smarter than everyone
else at a failing company, in chapter four. We get more of the
author's job history in chapter five, where interesting anecdotes and
brilliantly poetic writing mask the fact that we really aren't given
any substantial information about the marketing of dBASE. Chapter
six, supposedly about OS/2, starts with strange stories having nothing
to do with the operating system, and then follows an obscured and
often misleading timeline of events in the history of that system.
Chapter seven retails anecdotes about Borland. The story of the
infamous Pentium floating point unit problem is given in chapter
eight, but stripped of the (admittedly amusing) verbiage the relevant
bits could have been contained in only a few paragraphs. A
disorganized set of stories from Novell is presented in chapter nine.
Chapter ten is mostly about Microsoft public relations, with some
pieces from Netscape as unrelated add-ons. A few "dot com" busts are
described in (rather fittingly) chapter eleven.
The lessons in this book are confused and sometimes contradictory,
failing to present any clear direction to those who do not want to
follow in the steps of failure. The material is self-promotional, and
is amusing in most cases but not analytical. A great number of
evident errors make many of the other assertions in the work suspect.
As bedtime reading the volume is interesting, but very little will be
copyright Robert M. Slade, 2004 BKISSTPD.RVW 20040802
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