Looking At The Things Flashing By

Lj user saltdog reminded me of something from the not so long gone era of dotcoms. Back then there was a tremendous proliferation of web development companies that called themselves “agencies”. I worked for one back then.

These companies behaved kind of like bacteria in a pool of agar-agar. At first they multiplied. Razorfish, iXL, Scient, Viant, Sapient, Agency.com, Organic, Xpedior, Proxicom. Then they tried to enlarge themselves. Some by what they called “organic growth” which is like when a bacteria that grows more cells. If I remember correctly Razorfish tried doing that. Others engorged themselves by swallowing smaller companies like some corporate amoeba. A prime example of that was iXL. Then there was a type of companies that multiplied by cloning. Scient, Viant and Sapient even had cloned names.

Clients that wanted websites (agar-agar) were plentiful, but coding monkeys (minerals) were the growth limiting factor. The agencies spent much of their profits on advertising to lure in potential employees. One of the more creative ways I’ve seen at Sapient (I think, it could have been some other -nt clone). They rigged their website to detect referrals from ip addresses that belonged to other agencies and present a customized front page that presented top reasons to leave that agency and start working for the clone.

A magazine ad (I think from Silicon Alley Reporter) that stuck in my head and what lj user “saltdog” reminded me of was rather unique. It was just a copy of a ticket. A real ticket given by an MTA cop to some codemonkey at some now defunct agency. It was a little hard to read and probably not very eye catching. In the memo field of the ticket it said something like this: ” MTA police officer [Cop’s name] encountered [Codemonkey’s name] riding between the cars of the [some letter or number] train. When asked about what he was doing [Codemonkey] answered, that he was “looking at the things flashing by” “. The ticket was for $25 or $50 dollars, or something like that. The copy below the ticket invited people who like “looking at the things flashing by” to go work for that agency.

Yeah, that in itself was the epitome of the dot com era. Looking at the things flashing by. Then the amoebas, multicellular scum and clones ran out of agar-agar and began to merge, become swallowed by more evolved corporations and die.

Murder at the ABA or The Pod People

There is one project that I am glad I was not on. A few people that were sitting in a octapod next to me at iXL worked on the http://www.aba.com website. It turned out to be a horrible death march. I found out about the project because one of the coders had an Asimov’s book displayed on her table (interestingly enough, I had that book in my collection).

The book in question was “Murder at the ABA”, a detective story about a murder at the American Bookseller Association convention.

Oh, if you are wondering what the “octapod” is. An octapod is this weird replacement of a standard cubicle. It looks somewhat like this:

In other news: Scient that swallowed iXL has now been swallowed by sbi. So long to Scient, Viant, Sapient jokes.

View From the “Office” of Deadprogrammer

One thing that I see daily from the scratched window of my mobile “office” is the Clock Tower Building. Basically it’s a building in a neighborhood called DUMBO (a cutesy acronym for “Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass”). Many recently formed New York neighborhoods have cutsy acronym names. Like SoHo copycats NoLita (North of Little Italy) and NoHo (North of Houston). They remind me of dying internet consulting companies Scient, Viant and Sapient and probably already dead members of Politburo Zaikov, Slunkov and Vorotnikov (they were always mentioned together).

Clock Tower or Clocktower building used to be called “Gair Building No. 7” after Robert Gair, inventor of the corrugated cardboard box.

The building has a unique feature – a penthouse apartment with windows in a form of a clock. Which actually shows time.

The view from there is amazing. I think it’s a bargain at 4 million bucks.

I’ve rented my apartment sight unseen after the asshole real-estate agent showed me another apartment in the same building which had an OK view of Brooklyn. What I didn’t realize was that my apartment was facing another building. Yeah, I am a sucker for views.