Summer Reading

10:00 AM -- From the "Where Are They Now" file, we've caught up with Gary Clemenceau, marcom guy, formerly of Cyras and Calix Inc. (NYSE: CALX)

Clemenceau left the business a few years ago to complete a novel, Banker's Holiday, which was loads of fun and sent me to the dictionary more times than I'd like to admit.

His new book, The Torpometronomicon, is closer to non-fiction. It collects years of fake high-tech press releases written under the auspices of AcmeVaporware Inc. (AVW), a company famous for designing torpo-induction virtual machines, OSI-model mimetics, and the like. I'm just copying product names from the book here.

It does have a telecom angle. Just look: The very first press release talks about Layer 1 solutions (as in, bionic body parts for the Post Office, but it's got the words "Layer 1" in there). Then there's the one declaring an international No-Porn Day -- the purpose being to determine the volume of Internet porn usage, to facilitate better porn buildouts.

A good portion of the book got written during the telecom bubble, and it does have that bubblicious sense to it, satirizing vapory marketing, complex science jargon, and the PR process in general.

In addition to press releases, you've got phony essays and top-secret AVW board meeting minutes. A Q&A where one answer is to fix a router with "percussive maintenance" (a.k.a. ball-peen hammer). Satires on formerly current events, such as, "AcmeVaporware Seizes Elian Gonzalez. (AAAAUUGGGHHHIIIIIIEE!!!! screamed Elian Gonzalez until he was handed his paycheck from CNN.)" A long list of AVW's "vicious" new lineup of reality shows, including "Booth Island," located at a Vegas tradeshow. ("NO FOOD, NO WATER, and NO CHANCE TO SIT DOWN.")

Not to mention plenty of strange pictures. It's good fun, and I'm not saying that just because I get a shout-out in the acknowledgements.

Whether AVW is "real" is up for debate, since I think Clemenceau owns an honest-to-goodness trademark on the name. It's as real as any startup, in that sense. And it produced a product without burning tens of millions in the process.

— Craig Matsumoto, West Coast Editor, Light Reading

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