Kirill Orlov
Moscow, Russia — June 2005
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In Red Square with St. Basil's Cathedral in the background

When planning this project, I asked SPSS guru Raynald Levesque for his suggestions regarding SPSS experts I might interview. He said, “Well, if you are serious about wanting to interview experts no matter where they live, I suggest that you go to Moscow.”

In late 2003, Raynald received an unexpected but remarkable document from an SPSS user in Moscow, Russia, named Kirill Orlov. The document described many dozens of what were described as “Major flaws, shortcomings, errors and suggestions,” directed at SPSS version 11+. Kirill had learned about Raynald through Raynald’s website and sent his document, as one SPSS user to another, in the hope that Raynald would understand and appreciate what the document was about—and provide some feedback and validation of Kirill’s observations. Raynald read and reread the document and decided that it was no less than a thorough outside-in deconstruction of SPSS Base (with comments on other modules) from the perspective of a self-taught SPSS savant.

It didn’t take me long to take up Raynald’s challenge. After a brief exchange of e-mails, Kirill accepted my request for an interview. We arranged to meet first in the lobby of the Moscow’s Rossiya Hotel, just off Red Square, in June 2005.

Kirill is a lean 40-year old with long, prematurely gray hair who, to my good fortune, has a good command of English. Reclusive by nature, he is the only expert I interviewed who does not participate in the SPSSX mailing list. This, I believe, had an influence on his willingness to spend many hours over a two-day period with someone who would fly thousands of miles just to talk shop.

Kirill and I got to know one another as we walked around Red Square and other areas of Moscow, as he guided me through the historic Novodevichy Convent Cemetery (in which so many famous and notable Russians are laid to rest), and as we took the metro and rode the trolley to an interesting and informative visit to the offices of SPSS Moscow, followed by dinner at a Ukrainian restaurant.

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