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User Friendly: The Comic Strip
ISBN 1565926730 / 9781565926738 / 1-56592-673-0
Publisher O'Reilly Media
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Yes, it's a cliché, but it's true enough to be worth repeating: User Friendly is to the open-source world what Dilbert is to swarming hives of Windows cubicles. Set in an ISP company that keeps getting bought and sold, the constant remains a team of cynical, hilarious techies. M.B.A.s and marketers drift in and out, as do CEOs, often making statements like, "I can't surf the Web. I think the Internet is broken." For anyone who's dealt with similar situations, User Friendly is the ultimate in-joke.
To be fair, the comic is pretty basic in layout and execution. No one will confuse this book with a graphic novel, since the visuals basically exist only to further the punch line. (Think of a stripped-down Bloom County and you're getting close.) Lots of the jokes involve goofy, clichéd rants about the beauty of Quake, Linux, and Star Wars--the holy trinity for a white, wired, 18-26 year-old male audience. But when the author, Illiad, nails the bloated bureaucracy that exists in the tech working world, it's a laugh-out-loud payoff. In one comic, a new "suit" walks into the tech den and asks, What's "one thing that makes your job difficult, and we'll see about eliminating that." The chorus erupts: "Meetings." The new boss replies: "Very good. Now let's spend a few hours discussing why meetings make you unproductive." A comic that tilts at windmills and Windows, it's clear why User Friendly has developed such a strong online cult following. --Jennifer Buckendorff [via]