We are borg

So those of you who follow me on Twitter / are friends on Facebook already know this by now, but I figured I’d make an announcement here for the remaining 10 of you who read this via RSS (i.e. the correct way). I’d also like to talk about some of my reasoning, and some of the implications.

In June I will be joining Google (specifically the Zurich branch) to work on Knowledge Graph.

This move has not been universally popular. There are some things that Google does that have failed to endear themselves to a number of people I know (some of these I agree with. e.g. I’m definitely not a fan of the real names policy).

But… you know, they also make really good software. I don’t really acknowledge the concept of “more good than harm”, but Google do a lot of good, and I can’t help but see improving the quality of access to information for billions of people as both unambiguously good and more useful than any software I’ve worked on to date. So I’m pretty excited about that.

There is however one thing that I am legitimately quite concerned about in joining Google though: My primary experience of people joining Google is when blogs I read get a blog post saying “I’m joining Google, but don’t worry: I won’t fall into a black hole like everyone else who joins Google. I’ll definitely keep blogging” and then maybe they write one or two blog posts shortly after that and the next one after that is the one several years later where they announce that they’re leaving Google to move onto other things.

Well, I’m joining Google, but don’t worry: I won’t fall into a black hole like everyone else who joins Google. I’ll definitely keep blogging.

A colleague (I forget which one) said the other day that he wasn’t worried because he was pretty sure no power on earth could stop me from blogging. I’m not quite so confident. There have been some pretty long periods (I think the longest was 6 months?) in the past where I’ve not blogged at all, and it wouldn’t be surprising if I had another one.

I’d quite like that not to happen, but I’m not under any impression that I’m in some way special. Lots of other people who wanted to keep blogging also stopped.

One way in which I’m a bit special is that most of those blogs were purely technical, and I know that part of what stops Googlers from blogging is that it’s difficult to blog about technical things when you’re immersed in the Google ecosystem and can’t share the details without extensive clearing from the legal department. I on the other hand blog about plenty of other things – maths, feminism, fiction, voting, etc. As far as I know it should still be fine to keep blogging about all of those.

But I don’t really feel confident that that’s enough. I still haven’t entirely convinced myself that beeminder is useful (I’ve been using it to keep me reading books, but I’m not sure how much that’s helping vs just intention), but I figure I might as well give it a try. Starting beginning of May I’m going to set up a beeminder requiring me to write at least a blog post every two weeks (my normal blogging rate is more like one a week, but I figure I should give myself some slack. If I end up vastly exceeding this I may raise the rate. If this turns out to be intractable due to reasons, I may lower the rate to one a month, but I don’t think I’ll have to do that. Worst case scenario you’ll get a whole bunch more book reviews, half-baked fiction and a few “So, Switzerland. What’s up with that?” posts.

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5 thoughts on “We are borg

  1. Thomas Themel

    Excellent news! I happen to work there as well, so I’d just have to pierce the veil of silence , were it to descend, by walking up to your desk and demanding my entertainment. Let me know if you ever find yourself wanting beer, immigrant advice or intellectual wankery in Zurich!

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