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You know, years ago, Before there was Google some geeks were properly impressed with a decent biblical concordance too! I feel like some geezer insisting that planes really cant be safe without the biplane configuration. Which of course held sway up until 1940 almost. But yeah. Boon to mankind & all. Improved writing & thinking immeasurably. Reading too. It's really hard Not being evil when you've got few conceptions of what that may look like. Other than Snidely Whiplash. Cheers & Thanks for the update, 'VJ'


Hi Esther. I'm a normal reader of your blog and have met you in person as well, and surprised that you drank so much of the Google Kool Aid. It does have a great image. I interviewed at Google in the past year in the Mountain View location, and was totally open to liking it. I didn't apply for a job there, but they found me and went through the entire recruiting process including a screening email (which I didn't reply to until the third copy had been sent), three screening phone calls, and then flying me out.

The food was good and suitable for every variation of diet, the people were smart and nice, and yet I was surprised that I found it so oppressive: the culture basically replicates grad school, with all the advantages and disadvantages thereof, with the two crucial exceptions that people neither get individual credit for their own work outside the company nor determine the course of their own work. The 20% time for individual projects is not exactly true: it only means that once you finish all your other work and meet all deadlines, then you can work on your own projects using Google resources as long as you give all the resulting intellectual property to Google. It's not like time schedules are made with the idea that Fridays are free days or something.

The environment is absorbing so even people who aren't happy with the work stay on because of the benefits and side activities. And of course there is a "you must have fun" attitude which verges on the oppressive. I had to sign a non-disclosure agreement on my visit, so can't say much, but I was surprised to be able to see such a negative view on a job interview when they were trying to recruit and impress me and hire me onto a job that I hadn't applied for.

I don't have a grudge against them at all. I wasn't thinking of a career in that area, but I was open to the idea that it could potentially be really really nice since I'd heard such great things.


Anon, What you're essentially describing are the inner workings of a fairly typical run of the mill R&D shop for almost any Fortune 500 company. If they still Do R&D as a corporate function that is. Which is the point. Google is doing nothing really new. They're just the new 'Bell labs'. But with a slightly more limited slice of the innovation spectrum. So ask some senior scientists, if you can find them, their experience working in & for Chem Labs or Big Pharma for example. It's really not much different.

You perhaps wanted to be paid handsomely to just sit back and think and imagine all day? Well, that's probably where a change of venue and some decent amount of impressive prior work might come in handy for here: []. Just a thought. Cheers & Good Luck, 'VJ'

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