A Mind Is A Terrible Thing To Waste

During my final holiday shopping adventure at the mall I elected to implement Plan-B, which is to synchronize our watches, designate a meeting place and time, and then wade off into the teeming masses for the sole purpose of killing time while the wife stalks the elusive ghost of Christmas markdowns. With autopilot engaged, I make the usual rounds of the music/video stores, the nature/museum stores, and finally the bookstore. The bookstore is always last, and is usually the place where I spend most of my time. What I happened to notice while I cruised the “stacks”, is something that both concerns and excites me at the same time.

Several years ago a book entitled “DOS for Dummies” appeared on bookstore shelves across the country, and became an instant success. Appealing to the computer novice, the book broke new ground in providing simple answers and explanations to the mass market of computer-illiterates., and spawned a whole series of books - for dummies - covering just about every PC-based operating system and software application. Now I'll never claim to know everything about anything but that doesn't make me a dummy, and as such rules out any possibility that I would ever purchase one of these books.

Not surprisingly, a second publisher jumped on the bandwagon and introduced another group of books entitled “The Complete Idiots Guide To…” which also lent themselves to the denizens of the technically challenged. And again the masses flocked to the stores with cash in hand. Not the dummies mind you; this time it was the idiots! And then something very interesting happened…

“Dummy” books started showing up in other sections of the bookstore. No longer confined to the computer section, the familiar yellow and black books were now spreading throughout the store like a cold in a daycare center. No topic seemed to be overlooked. Gardening for Dummies… Cooking for Dummies… Estate Planning for Dummies… even (so help me) Sex for Dummies. There are even music CD's now available for the culturally inept… ie. Mozart for Dummies! Now am I the only person running from the overturned truck of giant body-snatching pods, or is there anyone else out there frightened about where this is all heading? Are the presses already cranking out copies of: Parenting for Dummies, Nuclear Fission for Dummies, Brain Surgery for Dummies, and the like?

If the stoke of genius behind the skyrocketing sales of these books is based on the fact that the general population is nothing more than a defective gene pool of blathering morons, then I say let's join the onslaught, and take advantage of a rather unique situation. IBM should put a team of technical writers together immediately, and author a “TPF for Dummies” publication. What better way to get the technology into the hands of corporate America! TPF will not only make its way into the boardrooms, but may also make the New York Times best seller list to boot. Now if we take things one step further, we also have the potential to put TPF into the hands of everyone. Quite simply, what we do is publish the same book under two different titles; “TPF for Dummies” and “TPF for Corporate Executives”, with minor changes to the book jackets. That way no ones ego is damaged, and no ones intelligence becomes a factor in choosing to purchase the book. It doesn't matter which “flavor” makes it to the Board of Directors. The message still gets delivered.

Those of you that have been regular subscribers to ACPTPF Today are well aware of my efforts to get IBM to aggressively market TPF to the worldwide business community. Now I'll admit that some of my ideas have been, shall we say, slightly off-center. I'll even concede that a few may have been completely off the wall. In either event, I plan on doing everything I can to help TPF take its rightful place as the mainstay of transaction processing for major business concerns throughout the world. Failing my efforts, I can only hope that some enterprising individual will eventually publish “Marketing for Dummies”, and that someone at IBM will take the time to read it.

Alan Sadowsky