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Brier Dudley offers a critical look at technology and business issues affecting the Northwest.

August 6, 2008 at 11:59 PM

P.C. MacGoogle: The UW’s Shakespearean Dilbert

It won’t be the next Harry Potter, but a quirkly little technology booklet has been selling briskly at the University of Washington Book Store and a nearby coffee shop frequented by UW tech staff.

The $3 tract is in the style of an 18th century political pamphlet, yet comments on problems in a 21st century information-technology organization.

Only insiders may recognize that it’s a humorous commentary on the UW IT department, where the discovery that it was $10 million in the red led to a management shakeup and 66 people being laid off in May.

“A Failure of Character, or The Ruination of a University IT Department,” was written by “P.C. MacGoogle, Layoffee of this Borough.”

A sample, from the opening of Act II, Scene I, where the “expanded executive committee” is meeting:

The Twenty-seven Executives: (in chorus)

“We should have resisted

The rot at the top

We should have taken a stand

But our willpower is feeble

We’re gutless and weak

And none of wants to get canned!

We avoid at all costs getting canned!”

Ian Taylor, who was laid off from the department after working there 32 of his 59 years, designed and published the tract this summer through his Crooked Cucumber Press.

“I acknowlege being the publisher and as the publisher I’m going to protect the identity of the author who wishes to remain pseudonymous,” Taylor said from his home in Shoreline, where he’s spending time gardening before getting serious about his job search.

The UW won’t have an official comment on the booklet, said Norm Arkans, director of media relations and communications.

Arkans did say the school’s in the process of sorting out the IT department financial problems and recently named a veteran school administrator, Kelli Trosvig, as its chief operating officer.

Ron Johnson, the group’s former manager, is now chief technology officer for the university. He could not be reached for comment.

“He’s not going to have day to day management and oversight for the organization but he’s reporting directly to the president,” Arkans said.

Meanwhile, 500 copies of the treatise have been sold and Taylor just received an order for 30 more. They’re available through the UW Bookstore and the Caffe Appassionato on the Ave.

It’s the second title published by Crooked Cucumber. Earlier it published Taylor’s illustrated “Suburban Adventures of a Naked Gardener.”

Next month should see a third title, a longer book by P.C. MacGoogle aimed at IT administrators everywhere: “A Child’s Guide to Executive Leadership in Information Technology.”



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