No, I still don’t want to work for Google.

You think those Google recruiters would know not to contact me, but the other day I got another perky “Opportunities at Google” email from one of them, telling me that they’d found my “online profile” and that based on my experience they think I “could be a great addition to our team!”

Riiiiight.

Since I just deleted my LinkedIn profile, I emailed them asking where they’d found this “online profile”, since it was obviously outdated. Oddly enough, it seems they’d found a page about me on the Geek Feminism Wiki, and were using the rather sketchy outline of my open source background there as justification for trying to recruit me.

The recruiter admitted that the page was out of date, and asked me to let them know what I’d been up to lately so they could add it to their records. Below is a copy of what I sent them. I’m posting it here, lightly edited, for anyone who’s interested, and in the hopes that the next Google recruiter (I have no doubt that there’ll be one) might use that web search thingamajig to find out whether I’m a suitable candidate before emailing me.


Here’s what I’ve been up to for the last couple of years, since you asked.

In July 2010 the startup I was working for, Metaweb, was acquired by Google. I was brought in on a 1-year fixed term employment contract, since the group we were acquired into (Search) didn’t really know what to do with a technical community manager. I attempted to transfer my role over to Developer Relations, but was told that I “wasn’t technical enough” for the job I’d been doing for 3+ years, presumably because I didn’t have a computer science degree and believed that supporting our developer community was more important than being able to pass arbitrary technical quizzes.

Around the same time, Google started to develop Google+. As a queer/genderqueer woman, victim of abuse, and someone who was (at that very time) experiencing online harassment and bullying, I was very vocal within Google for the need for Google+ to support pseudonymity. Google decided not to do that, and instead told people they should use “the name they are known by” while in actual fact requiring their full legal names, in many cases requiring people to provide copies of their government ID when challenged. (Extensive documentation about this is available on the Geek Feminism wiki, if you’d like to read it. See Who is harmed by a “Real Names” policy? for starters.)

When I walked out the door of Google’s San Francisco office on July 15th, 2011, I was very glad to have left a company I thought was doing evil towards any number of marginalised and at-risk people. My first tweet on leaving was to criticise them for it.

Less than a week later I got my first email from a Google recruiter — not first ever, of course; I’d been spammed with them for years, but first since I quit working for them. Here’s the blog post I wrote about it. In case you can’t be bothered clicking through and reading it, here’s the money shot:

If you are a Google recruiter, and you want me to interview for SWE or SRE or any role that has an algorithm pop quiz as part of the interview, if you want me to apply for something without knowing what team I’ll be working on and whether it meshes with my values and goals and interests, if you want me to go through your quite frankly humiliating interview process just to be told that my skills and qualifications — which you could have found perfectly easily if you’d bothered to actually look before spamming me — aren’t suitable for any of the roles you have available, then just DON’T.

The very day after I blogged about that, my Google+ account was suspended, for using the name I was almost universally known by. Over the next couple of months, I campaigned tirelessly for Google+ to change its policies, working with the EFF and other advocates. My work was covered in Wired, The Atlantic, and a number of other mainstream press outlets. Obviously this was to no avail as Eric Schmidt (at the time, CEO of Google) described pseudonymous users like me as “a dog or a fake person” and no substantive change has ever been made to allow pseudonymous use of the service, despite promises to do so.

I returned to Australia and went back to school. I did a semester of Sound Production at TAFE, but it turned out that the sound engineering course I was enrolled in wasn’t really my cup of tea, just like I’d previously decided, back in the ’90s, that university wasn’t for me. Like so many others, I quit my computing degree because I was more interested in the Internet and open source software than in fixing COBOL applications for banks who were worried about Y2K. But then, I’m sure Google’s HR system already knows all about that — if I’d had a degree, you might have considered me worth keeping on last year. Instead, Google’s reliance on higher education credentials causes it to weed out people like me, even though I have a track record a mile long and buckets of evidence to show that I’m good at what I do.

In the end, I’ve spent most of the last year lying in hammocks reading books, working in my garden, going to gigs, hanging around recording studios, doing the odd bit of freelancing, and, over the last few months, travelling around Europe. It’s given me a good opportunity to reflect on my previous work.

Since I’ve been out of the Silicon-Valley-centred tech industry, I’ve become increasingly convinced that it’s morally bankrupt and essentially toxic to our society. Companies like Google and Facebook — in common with most public companies — have interests that are frequently in conflict with the wellbeing of — I was going to say their customers or their users, but I’ll say “people” in general, since it’s wider than that. People who use their systems directly, people who don’t — we’re all affected by it, and although some of the outcomes are positive a disturbingly high number of them are negative: the erosion of privacy, of consumer rights, of the public domain and fair use, of meaningful connections between people and a sense of true community, of beauty and care taken in craftsmanship, of our very physical wellbeing. No amount of employee benefits or underfunded Google.org projects can counteract that.

Over time, I’ve come to consider that this situation is irremediable, given our current capitalist system and all its inequalities. To fix it, we’re going to need to work on social justice and rethinking how we live and work and relate to each other. Geek toys like self-driving cars and augmented reality sunglasses won’t fix it. Social networks designed to identify you to corporations so they can sell you more stuff won’t fix it. Better ad targetting or content matching algorithms definitely won’t fix it. Nothing Google is doing will fix it, and in fact unless Google does a sharp about-turn, they’ll only worsen the inequality and injustice there is in the world.

I guess you’ll want to know what I’m working on at the moment. My current project is an open source, open data project called Growstuff, which helps food gardeners track and share information about what they’re growing and harvesting. It is built on principles of sustainability, including a commitment to a diverse and harassment-free community, to actively supporting developers rather than excluding them based on misguided ideas of meritocracy, and to funding the project through means that will never put the people running the website in opposition to our customers. That means no ads, in case you’re wondering. We’d rather our members paid us directly; that way, we’ll never forget who we’re meant to be serving. I’m working on Growstuff from home, where I can be myself and feel safe and comfortable. I work with volunteers from all round the world, and get to teach programming and web development and system administration and project management and sustainability to all kinds of people, especially those who’ve previously been excluded from or marginalised in their technical education or careers. We get to work on things we know are wanted and appreciated, and we don’t have to screw anyone around to do it.

Let me know when Google has changed enough to offer me something more appealing than that. If you don’t think that’s likely to happen, then please put me on whatever “Do Not Contact” blacklist you might have handy. I know you must have some such list; I only wish you regularly referred to it instead of spamming people who not only don’t want to work for you, but have nightmares about it.


49 thoughts on “No, I still don’t want to work for Google.

  • nmjk

    I appreciate the way you described the bankruptcy and toxicity of Silicon Valley. A lot of it is familiar sentiment, thoughts I’ve had percolating for a couple of years, but some of it was said in new ways, which will give me opportunity to do some more thinking. The following two bits are among those that resonated most:

    “of meaningful connections between people and a sense of true community, of beauty and care taken in craftsmanship, of our very physical wellbeing.”

    “this situation is irremediable, given our current capitalist system and all its inequalities. To fix it, we’re going to need to work on social justice and rethinking how we live and work and relate to each other.”

    Thanks for writing this, and thanks for sharing it. I hope it has the intended effect and accomplishes some good of its own.

  • Simon

    My reasons for not wanting to work for Google are much more mundane than yours ( the main one is not wanting to move ) but they still contact me every few months via email or Linkedin just in case my circumstances have changed.

    The bit that bothers me is that no other tech company every approaches me and I rarely get contacted by recruiters. I’d gladly swap the Google Spam for the odd ping from other companies who I’d prefer to work for.

  • Jeff

    Any opinions on the current attempts to provide social networks that don’t feed your information into an advertising engine? I’ve my own opinions about how that should progress, potentially unrealistic ones, but just curious about yours.

  • Skud Post author

    @Jeff: the two previous hot contenders for that were identi.ca and Diaspora, both of which I think will never take off for various reasons, including (in both cases) lack of people to get the network effect happening, and lack of leadership from the founders (in Diaspora’s case, because of the death (by suicide, claimed by some to be due to the pressure of working on the project) of one of them). I’m quite interested in seeing what happens with OStatus, though, as I posted here a couple of weeks back; it seems to be (roughly) equivalent to RSS for quick status updates. There was some talk on Hacker News about integrating it with WordPress, and if that were to happen it could actually take off.

    For the most part, these days, I am starting to withdraw from the idea of social networks that “everyone” uses and focusing my energies on smaller sites/forums/communities with a creative/meaningful purpose beyond “collect more friends than anyone else”. You might not be able to see your second cousin post their baby photos or hear your boss tell bigoted jokes (which is JUST FINE by me), but on the whole I prefer somewhere where you can meet and hang out with a smaller set of people who share your interests and values. It’s a different kind of filter bubble, but one that’s better for my personal mental health and, I would contend, for society as a whole.

  • Secular Traditionalist

    I agree with you about two fundamental issues:

    I. Silicon Valley is toxic. It’s a gold rush. These people are making products that are designed to make people into products.

    II. Anonymity is essential to the free exchange of information. Without anonymity, retribution occurs and can take the form of shaming and lynch mobbing that robs people of their livelihoods.

    I wouldn’t want to work for Google either, but my reason is much more mundane: they have jumped the shark. Like most elites, the Silicon Valley elite are out of touch, drugged on their own perceived superiority, and oblivious to what people actually need.

    Your gardening app sounds interesting and I can see using it. I’m from the opposite end of the political and social spectrum but we can find common ground in the need to treat people well and grow sustainable food.

  • Xlp Thlplylp

    Like everything else connected with Google, there is an algorithm for getting them to stop contacting you. I have hit on it inadvertently: if you are contacted by their recruiter, reply after some delay that you are interested, but provide no further information: do not volunteer a time when you are available. Do not deviate from this procedure. If you are contacted again, reply after some delay that you are interested, but provide no further information: do not volunteer a time when you are available.

    They will stop contacting you.

    Not following up, committing to a definite time or supplying information requested is an effective method that works with Amazon as well as Google.

  • zu

    So i found a way to cut the spam.
    Accept the interview.
    When they start the process say, “look, i don’t want to work for you right now, can you stop contacting me? i’ll contact you if i change my mind thanks”

    then they put u in a blacklist. no more contacts.

  • Sven

    > but one that’s better for my personal mental health

    I can only agree with you. Quite interesting, I saw the post on HN and not knowing, what to expect, was positively surprised by the content of the post.

    Thanks for showing me Growstuff that way. As a gardening–hobbyist myself, me and my (much more experienced) girlfriend love or garden, or more than 40 tomato-varieties and a lot of non commercial “old” plant-varieties.

    But on the toxicity of the web-companies – I agree. I believe, they might be just as toxid, as the big (so called) “food”-cooperations (like Monsanto, et al).

    I see it this way. Everybody, who wants to post or live on at these digital places (which I do as well sometimes) has every right. All this is fine by me. But i do not have to let this rule my world. Or my digital world.

    Greetings from the old world (northern Germany),
    Sven

  • sm

    I have no comments on the Google part but I think they might not be keeping track of who unsubscribed from the job spam?

    I really love your idea of “focusing on smaller sites/forums/communities with a creative/meaningful purpose”. It seems to me the Facebooks/Googles are transforming more akin to skyscrapers that suck life energy out of their surroundings. And as to the silicon-valley-centered tech society becoming essentially toxic, I completely agree. And as long as most of the entrepreneurs who fuel this engine at silicon valley equate success to either being acquired by these behemoths or work-out a deal that makes them overnight millionaires, it continues to become impersonal, unsustainable and mechanized at a macro-level, and the ideas essentially do not go further than some geek-toys.

    I have similar interests as GROWSTUFF, will check out your wiki and the github.
    Thanks for the post.

  • Gemma

    Thank you for writing this, first because I completely agree with you and second because a lot of people — white men, primarily — have a really hard time identifying with these issues. I’m ashamed and embarrassed by the response on HN that I’ve decided not to voice my opinion or bother getting into spats with people there on why these are important issues that will extend past our time, and that when left unaddressed, will substantially affect the products and communities they harbor.

    People forget that both men and women were on the same side of the fence when Blizzard wanted to enforce similar tactics with RealID, which would have ousted the names and genders of everyone on the forums. People forget how up-in-arms we become when once-thought private databases with our information are breached. We take so much of this for granted until it is too late, when it can have irreversible repercussions.

    Thank you for your story.

  • Greg Hluska

    First off, (amazing)^1/0 article!! :)

    Second, in a comment to Jeff, you wrote:

    ‘For the most part, these days, I am starting to withdraw from the idea of social networks that “everyone” uses and focusing my energies on smaller sites/forums/communities with a creative/meaningful purpose beyond “collect more friends than anyone else”.’

    I remember when I first discovered the real world. My (extremely geeky) friends and I were obsessed with Shadowrun and we lived in a part of the world where winter was quite horrible. We were in Grade 9, so couldn’t drive yet we wanted to keep gaming. So, we decided to start our own BBS.

    As the early 90s ticked by, my passion for BBS was joined by other technologies. Usenet taught me about feminism and riot grrl, and supplemented my Catholic school education with concepts like equality. Mosaic came out a few years later and suddenly, the web grabbed my teenaged consciousness.

    The web I cut my teeth on was still a social network, but just an extraordinarily segregated one where everyone found their own community that formed around personal interests.

    Whether those communities were straight edge punks, or people with really wicked Shadowrun characters, I feel that the web of my youth was built around small groups of passionate people who got together for a deeper purpose.

    Granted, 20 years has gone since I first discovered that modems could bring a sense of peace. I’m sure I look back with unreasonable nostalgia, but it still makes me very++ happy when I read people talking about purposeful social media….

    Great post again. Thanks so much for writing and best of luck!!!

  • Ben Combee

    Thanks for writing about the reasons to not work at Google. As one who’s contacted by them and who have friends working there, this is a useful perspective.

    However, especially thanks for the reference to GrowStuff — my wife is an urban gardener here in Austin with Urban Patchwork (http://urbanpatchwork.org), and this project looks like a nice way to use some of my tech skills to help with their efforts. I’m already reading through the GrowStuff wiki to learn more about the setup.

  • ip

    I’m also out of linkedin and most of other social networks, because current “social” networks are in fact tools for big corps and establishment (btw lot of people outside of US understand this). To be honest, i personally think Internet is atm being conquered by (mostly US) corps in the same way imperialists did in real world. Why? Because i remember ’90 when Internet was something else. I don’t want to be part of that, so i also choose to reject any big interview. Hail to you too! ;-)

    Just one comment. For me social network is just term for behavior that is not dependent on specific protocol. usenet, irc, smtp, … all can be social if you make it social. Social network owned by corp? It’s oxymoron. Social network shouldn’t be owned by anyone in particular.

  • fijal

    Hi

    Surprisingly enough, geek toys do help poor people in the long run. It’s usually not the corporations themselves, but things invented by them. A good look what mobile technology (which really used to be geek tools/tools for rich bussinesmen) brought to Africa, I suggest looking at few of the videos, say here: http://www.praekelt.org.za/

    Cheers,
    fijal

  • Sven

    Greetings,

    well the one problem, I see with corporate owned social networks is not primarily the fact, that they are corporate owned, as long, as the interests of the company/shareholders are in line with the ones of the users. But today that is not the fact.

    The so called users are in fact not even that. They are the product sold. Sold to advertisers, sold as numbers to investors. The real users are them. They (believe to) extract value from the network. More, than the product. Because these networks do have a value for the product as well. An easy way to connect to so called friends. But these connections seldom do go deep. They are superficial at best.

    Imagine a cafe (or so). You go there, you meet there regularly. You are a group. The establishment gets money from your drinks or food. But they do not listen to you conversations. They do not track your drinks in order to present you with advertisements from this or that brand. They make money from you as a customer. You pay them indirectly to provide a location (and all the rest).

    So even a McDonalds or any other franchise-place could be that place. Even owned by a cooperation. That would not matter, as you are their customer and their interests are (mostly) in line with yours. And if one day this would change, you could just as easily change the location.

    And now compare this to FB and the like…

  • duggi

    i’m no goog fanboy, but — for me it is by far the most prolific provider of access to the vast volumes of human knowledge. i can literally find anything i want to know, just by typing into that little box.

    having learned in far more difficult ways earlier in life, this benefit cannot be overlooked. when there is a more neutral or benevolent alternative, i will use it. wikipedia, by its nature will always be a lake to google’s oceans.

  • Benjamin O'Connor

    Very well put. Not unlike a response I put up after yet another run at me by a Google recruiter a few months ago. My current work is challenging, rewarding, and something I can be proud of. I mean no disrespect to the folks at the goog or the book, but I’m old enough now where I can pick and choose where I work and what impact that work has on society, and my customers. What could be more harmless than providing joy to people and making video games, right? Anwyays. Thanks for fighting the good fight, and not just padding your resume (and belt line with all those free meals designed to keep you there for 11-hour days). Harmonix is hiring by the way: http://intotheweeds.org/2012/06/09/late-news-i-have-a-new-job-and-it-makes-me-happy/

  • Arun

    ” I work with volunteers from all round the world, and get to teach programming and web development and system administration and project management and sustainability to all kinds of people, especially those who’ve previously been excluded from or marginalised in their technical education or careers.”
    I HAVE BEEN DOING THIS FROM A COUPLE OF YEARS NOW… a movement over the education system is a must.

  • Jim Strathmeyer

    I suppose those of us who interviewed at Google and didn’t get a job are still left to wonder what it takes to get on the “Google track”.

  • Mansour

    Great article. But I don’t know if I’d have the courage to turn down a job at Google (although it sounds like they’re trawling the web and then dumping people during the interview process). The current Silicon Valley business model is to turn (masses of) people into products for advertisers; it’s a sick mindset. It’s heartening to see people seeing past that and working in the other direction.

  • Ron

    that this situation is irremediable, given our current capitalist system and all its inequalities.

    What would fix it?

  • Syzygy

    Thanks, Skud. That was pretty inspiring indeed. I suppose that was just the nudge I’ve been waiting for. It’s going to be tough to cease being a product, but I think you’re absolutely right and getting out of this nonsense is possible. Well done.

  • Misha

    This is interesting and I do believe Google is making the world a worse place, but would you like the work? I mean tha ctual nitty gritty work? One of the benifits of a small company is the ability to just get things done by doing them. Having come from that background I cannot imagine myself working as anything other then the CEO of a large company :-)

  • Paul Harrison

    Have you considered getting into bioinformatics? Not morally bankrupt. Help cure diseases / cancer. Huge interesting piles of data (high-throughput sequencing is getting faster faster than hard disks are getting larger, this is a problem). Play with some very nice machines.

  • John Schubert

    Great write up. I think the comments about not reading my background resonated more with my personal experiences. I’m pretty far along the career path and yet they call about things I did 10 years ago. “Yes, I’d love to earn 1/3 the pay, and ignore all of my last decade of career progression.” Not that it would be bad, or unthinkable, but they seem oblivious.

    I can’t agree that Google is a trove of information. It’s a necessary, somewhat evil. Try Googling “iOS 6 how to find canvas” and tell me how many pages it takes before you get a hit that actually talks about anything of value. I use Yahoo’s search because it seems less inclined to spam me.

    And, Facebook has added itself to the necessary evil list. Spam now shows up in your Wall/News Feed. Try to hide it and it actually asks you why. Ummm…because you spammed me ya twit. However, I have a lifelong list of very close friends on there and it’s the only way to keep in touch with them in an efficient way.

  • Arun C

    Very nice post. I liked the way you have described your thoughts. Nice to think there are still people in world who lives by conviction. All the best.

  • FoolishOwl

    Unfortunately, your article is on Slashdot. I remember you once describing Slashdot as a snake pit, and the snakes are out in force.

    http://tech.slashdot.org/story/12/10/29/2332216/is-silicon-valley-morally-bankrupt-and-toxic

    Half the comments seem to be outraged that you said something mean about capitalism. Apparently, capitalism is very sensitive, and you hurt its feelings.

    Long story short: I work in IT, and despite a lifelong love for software and the Internet, I’m growing to hate the entire industry. Among so many other things, there is the colossal waste. My company spends hundreds of millions, even billions, to buy out other companies, just so its competitors don’t get them first. We run datacenters full of countless idle servers. My co-workers insist on leaving their workstations powered on when they’re off-shift, for no reason; I’m in a room with twenty workstations, all powered on, and there are only two people working here.

    Incidentally, this is the first time in my life in which I’ve had to spend extended periods of time in an all-male environment.

    I used to daydream the IT industry is recreating the mythical Library of Alexandria, only bigger and better. But Wikipedia has, last I checked, something like a hundred people on its staff. There’s probably a reasonably long list of actually worthwhile projects active on the Internet — mostly on shoestring budgets, with small teams of volunteers — but all those are overshadowed by the overcapitalized crap factories. I used to think, for all the injustice implied in amassing so much wealth, at least the IT magnates didn’t kill anyone. But, given how much power we’re wasting, it’s hard not to see the IT industry complicit in oil wars, and in the extended hurricane season.

  • Ryan

    It’s an interesting perspective, but you know, for every one person like you, there are a hundred like me, with a love of “geek toys” and an extensive tech background, who would kill for a chance at a job at Google. I don’t think Google has very much to worry about in terms of running out of tech talent.

  • Adam Kennedy

    Hiya Skud

    Google has/had a hiring blacklist, people known to not want to be hired by them. Or at least they *used* to have one. I was bitching to Chris DiBona at a conference about 5 years ago about the contacts, and he put me on it.

    I’m not sure if it still exists…

  • Skud Post author

    @Adam: yup, I was put on it in 2007 and was delighted not to hear a peep from them til the Metaweb aquisition. Then I got that email after leaving Google and I *presumed* I would have been put back on it, but apparently not.

    Actually, it was funny … back in 2007 Google had just opened their Sydney office and their recruiters were at OSDC trying really hard to get almost anyone they could. During the conference dinner I met their main recruiter guy and I asked him if there was a blacklist and could I be put on it. He said sure and took my details. I passed the word round to most of my other Perl friends (almost all of whom had had the same experience as me — “your skills would be a valuable addition to the team! oh wait eww Perl”, lather rinse repeat every six months — and the poor guy was pretty much mobbed.

  • Goonoo

    You need some zen in your life. Books, hammocks and gardening is a good start. Being humble is the next step. Keep up the good work. Peace

  • Dan

    To be honest, I started reading this article with complete skepticism.
    I’ve seen any number of rants against big companies for what seemed to me to be purely personal reasons on blogs like this, linked from Hacker News or Reddit.
    But I’ve got to say that you completely won me over with what you were saying and it’s made me think that there must be a way of organising against big companies like this?
    Anyway, thanks for the article, it’s made me think differently about things.

  • Bryan

    Really glad to hear it put so bluntly from someone who has experienced the valley first hand. I am a young entrepreneur lucky enough to be working with some people who see the bullshit for what it is. However, I worry about the rest of my peers and the next generation of people born onto Google. As to the discussion about social networks I want to share something and would love to here some feedback: blog.tributari.org

  • RJ Smith

    Wow, thanks for posting this. I read the snippet that was linked on Slashdot. As someone who cut my teeth in the early social networks of the net and BBS networks in the early ’90s, I also began in small networks of passionate people. However, I took a much different path than you, and ended up working in part of the System.

    For the past few years, I have been quite disillusioned with the paths I’ve chosen. Being complicit to the Patriarchy is exhausting and it makes me wonder how one can break free of it and forge a new path. I am fascinated to hear about your new ventures and that one can still live according to ideals and principles to build community, rather than selling out to make a living.

  • Keith Horwood

    Very interesting article. Stumbled across it from Alexis Ohanian’s Twitter feed. I agree with you on a lot of principles. I think modern social networking is fundamentally broken. The internet thrived for, what, 20 years with bulletin board systems and without real names?

    What the internet really did for us was introduce us to an entirely new way to communicate and share ideas. No longer where you subjugated to the whims, culture and status quo of those immediately surrounding you in physical space. You were able to become a part of this transient collection of disembodied ideas, opinions, and thoughts. You could meet others and spend hours upon hours discussing niche interests nobody else you’ve met shares with you.

    We already had social networks. They were just different. They were emergent, self-organizing structures enabled by simple bulletin boards. They still exist, in abundance, to this day. When those at Facebook realized, either directly or indirectly, that they could use the social aspects of the internet to capitalize on the insecurity and the need of belonging of millions of people, they ran with it. If you look at Facebook’s entire structure from day one, it has always been about advertising (yourself, your product) and attempting to conform to the status quo with real discussion and socialization being only a mere afterthought.

    Facebook biffed it. Google had a chance to make it better, but they messed it up the same way that Facebook did. Why? Because you don’t make money if an idea, thought, or opinion doesn’t have relevant marketing information attached to it. In aiming for profitability instead of social innovation, Facebook and Google+ have completely missed out on a huge untapped potential – not necessarily for themselves, but for society. Unfiltered, abstract ideas, concepts, theories, and innovations that once out there, without fear of the status quo dragging them into oblivion, will propagate and grow indefinitely. Without individual context, but great for the population as a whole.

    Ad-free platforms are the future. Your new project sounds phenomenal, and I wish you the best.

    @duggi, re: “wikipedia, by its nature will always be a lake to google’s oceans.”
    I have learned far more concepts and have a much greater understanding of the natural world and the processes that shape the development of all life and humankind from Wikipedia than I ever have from Google. You know what Google is good at? Telling me whether or not I can eat baking soda if I have heartburn (or some other Yahoo! answers variation) and providing a quick link to stackoverflow for a programming question.

    @Paul Harrison, re: “Have you considered getting into bioinformatics? Not morally bankrupt.”
    Good luck, if you think Google’s hiring practices are elitist. The ivory tower is, in a lot of ways, a pretty abysmal place for promoting new ideas and innovation. I’m a bit jaded by my own experience in graduate school for Biochemistry, but many, many people go into medical research fields with all of the best intentions and leave completely broken. It’s an old, antiquated system and the status quo there, while different than the outside world, is far, far less forgiving.

  • sboosali

    “Over time, I’ve come to consider that this situation is irremediable, given our current capitalist system and all its inequalities. To fix it, we’re going to need to work on social justice and rethinking how we live and work and relate to each other. Geek toys like self-driving cars and augmented reality sunglasses won’t fix it.”

    technological progress IS moral progress. augmented reality sunglasses will EMPOWER US. self driving cars will SAVE LIVES.

  • Brendten Eickstaedt

    Thanks for the awesome post. I’m a white male software engineer who uses his real name on everything. I’m also a guy who supports and fights for the rights of everyone to do as he/she wishes (assuming it does not do harm to another) without some arbitrary moral authority telling him or her “NO, you must conform.” I’ve fought this battle on a very small scale in the two social startups I work for, an applaud you for taking on the much bigger and much more dangerous task of fighting this battle with Google. Like you, I believe small connected communities of people who truly WANT to be friends will, at some point, win the day. Until then, we all need to keep fighting the good fight against the hegemony of Google, Facebook, Twitter, et al in any and every way we can. Thanks for doing your part.

  • Sean Kean

    Hey Skud – thanks for this –

    There’s a new breed of companies being formed that hold themselves accountable to mission statements like “don’t be evil” with actual checks and balances to take stakeholders (people & planet) into account over shareholders (profit) — check out http://bcorporation.net — one day I trust people will look for this designation on the products and services they pour their lives into — and reject companies that refuse to hold themselves accountable. These new conscious companies hope to attract talent like you to steer a new course for us all – and render the companies of old obsolete.

    A storm is coming….

  • Shava Nerad

    Oddly, just came to check up on you as I moved from one set of benevolent overlords (at&t/apple) to another (Verizon/Samsung) and found to my amusement that my android phone’s gallery came pre-populated with Picasa labeled images that were actually never explicitly added yo Picasa, but added as images in Google+ posts.

    But this unexpected behavior did present me with images of dancing with you in cardboard effigy outside Google Cambridge on Friday afternoons as part of the nymwars protests.

    Sounds like a mellow life. I hope it is good to you and you are good for the world! ;-)

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