...but I've followed them closely.
A long time ago I noted that the biggest challenge
of the Internet was going to be finding things. As an undergrad I earned a bit of extra money working
in the university library, and was told, on my very first day, that if you don't put something in the right place
you might as well throw it away, because it's unlikely anybody will be able to find it otherwise. Now we
have Google. Dave Cheriton was one of my undergrad profs, BTW, a 2nd year course in data structures that used
Another lesson from my undergrad days is that the structure of a product is isomorphic to the structure of the
group that created it. I currently support legacy software that was created by people who never talked
to each other, who never even sat down for a chat over lunch. It shows. The interface specs read like legal contracts.
The product line worked for a while, but is now unmaintainable, unsupportable, well in to its end of life
bug explosion, and we are actively developing replacements.
The company imploded in 2001. What was left tried a looser development process. It sort of worked, but eventually
failed. The biggest issue was a couple of extremely forceful
people who steamrollered their own pet ideas and who refused to listen to others. The bosses needed to rein them in, and didn't. It cost us the
Our current development model is basically a surgical team in a skunkworks sort of environment. Head office
is in Dallas. I'm in Vancouver. The physical separation is helpful. There aren't enough of us in the company to
do much else. It works. We're doing good work. The company is making money. The bosses are happy. We're happy.
I like a lot of what Google is doing. I like the encouragement to be creative. Good people are
creative, and if they're going to be creative, you might as well get them to be creative for you. And you have to take some
risks. Not all decisions are right. Not all products are winners. But if you don't risk failure, you don't risk
I have issues with the work/life balance implicit in the Googleplex work environment. Maybe I'm too old
or something (I'm 51), but I expect to have a life apart from my work.