Maybe selling things isn’t his strong suit.
Celebrated Canadian author Douglas Coupland made an appearance on BNN yesterday to promote his new book “Kitten Clone: Inside Alcatel-Lucent”. The segment was an unfocused and erratic take on the impact and importance of the internet that made for six-odd minutes of perplexing business television.
“If they were to vanish tomorrow the Internet would stop, our entire world would stop,” Coupland said was his justification for writing about what might not be considered to be the most riveting of subjects. “And for a company that under the radar they have a lot of power. Where does that come from and where is it going?”
That’s a coherent, if not to say riveting setup, but the payoff was not its equal.
Coupland said what he found was that “The cloud or the internet is just a bunch of server farms on the Columbia River”, and that the “the people at Alcatel-Lucent think of themselves sort of as plumbers who you only think of when you really need them”. With more literary flair, the author described the wiring of server farms as a “great big linguini of grey and black cables.”
“It’s very spread out and diffuse, as well”, said Coupland of the internet.
Coupland held out the most praise for China. He said his research for the book led him to speak with the Vice-President of the Shanghai Communist Party, whom he said is trying to bring ultra-high speed broadband to all Chinese citizens.
“Not to interrupt you,” interjected host Mark Bunting. “But China censors the internet, so there’s the whole lack of freedom and choking off of information and privacy…”
Coupland replied that he did notice that Google searches in said country were, at times, very slow.
Coupland rose to prominence in the early 1990’s for his novel “Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture”. He has previously written about the technology industry in his 1995 novel “Microserfs”, which began as a feature article for “Wired”.