Follow

Google memories (1/x) 

y'all going to laugh, but I really believed it. I drank the kool-aid. this was the mid-00s, a tech company with a motto "don't be evil" still felt daring rather than cringe – for an alienated techie like past me, at least; my politically aware friends tried to warn me; but I didn't realise that Google leveraged its fine-tuned advertising machinery also for recruiting, and I swallowed the whole thing.

Google memories (2/x) 

even back then, there were all these little dissonances. I remember my future boss asking me why I wanted to work there, and I said I respected the Ten Principles of the company. "what Ten Principles?" during all my time there, I found I was the only one gullible enough to have read those mission statement pages.

but hey, at least we were not Microsoft. we respected open standards, kind of. we used open source. mostly. except for key products like Search and Mail, but 🤷‍♀️

Show thread

Google memories (3/x) 

I aced the recruiting tests. How could I not? They were traps built for minds like mine. but I didn't understand how they were designed to make me feel proud, special.

and lucky. the Best Place to Work was shiny and different. the offices were called "campi". we got a lil welcome bonus to buy toys for your desk (I got a Kirby). there was a videogame room with Guitar Hero. the colourful rubbery floors felt like the furthest thing from your average office cubicle hell.

Show thread

Google memories (4/x) 

but if you're working-class, something in the atmosphere nagged at you. my (then) wife felt it, too. the way everybody acted so high and showy, the expensive barbecue outings, the invisibility of the cleaning ladies, the second-class status of "contractors, temps, and part-timers". nobody gave a second thought to the fact that our weekly TGIF parties meant shorter Fridays for us but longer Fridays to the women doing our dishes.

Show thread

Google memories (5/x) 

we had these fancy water purifiers, one per floor. they were not owned by the company, but rented. I looked it up, and the cost per month was more than we paid an avg employee (me). I told my boss we could use cheap, scientifically proven Brazilian ceramic filters, and hire cleaning personell as actual staff with the money. my boss looked at me like I was insane. I realised for all the talk, we had no input on company ethics.

Show thread

Google memories (6/x) 

I had trouble remembering all the internal acronyms and codenames. there was a dictionary page on the intranet, and I made an IRC bot for it. I thought I'd get praise for my initiative; but I was scolded for exposing internal codes (like project Chrome, then a secret) to temps and other second-class ppl. I pointed out this info was already available from the dictionary site. they said omg we must fix that.

this is the story of how I purged the dictionary of all usefulness.

Show thread

Google memories (7/x) 

my job at Google was to fix bugs in the homegrown account system. it was mind-numbingly boring. I told my boss I'd rather work in a different project. "No", he said.

remember we were supposed to have 20% of free time, but I had so many attributions forced on me, that I had to work overtime just to meet them. an internal survey (Googlegeist) showed that 90% of employees didn't make use of the 20% time.

Show thread

Google memories (8/x) 

"Is 20% time a myth?", I titled an intranet blog post. I can't choose what to work in, I wrote; I cited the survey; "this is not what the recruiters promised". I got a bunch of emails praising me for my courage. But I wasn't brave, I was naïve.

my boss called me to a little room in Phoenix and berated me for "stabbing him in the back". doesn't Google support Radical Transparency, I objected. he said, and I quote,

Show thread

Google memories (9/x) 

"Radical Transparency doesn't mean you can say critical things".

I learned he was chastised by his _own_ boss. he had an Unhappy Employee. we're the Best Place To Work. Unhappiness is not supposed to exist.

I started paying attention. A person from Project Android posted a confession about being disappointed with the directions of the project, open-sourceness-wise. It was personal, heartfelt; they felt betrayed.

Show thread

Google memories (10/x) 

one week later they posted a retraction. Project Android is amazing actually, this is so exciting, sorry about my rant, I was going through some personal stuff.

Friends told me to not criticise anything over email, as it can and will be read, and not use my phone lines.

I started feeling like in the RPG Paranoia: Being unhappy suggests the Computer is flawed, therefore unhappiness is treason. Citizens are monitored, and traitors will be punished. Are you happy, citizen?

Show thread

Google memories (11/x) 

after that I was marked as a problem employee, and my boss put me on performance review. one of his criticisms was that my intranet profile was too personal. it said I was bisexual and poli. that was it. that's the "too personal".

Google was so progressive! they loved my dyed hair for PR photos. and hey we had the Gayglers and all.

(the only thing I got from being in Gayglers was a creepy call from ads wanting to mine me for keywords for the Brazilian LGBT community.)

Show thread

Google memories (12/x) 

did I mention we were underpaid? All Brazilian employees dreamed of a relocation and a salary not below market avg. I wanted Japan. boss told me it was impossible without fluent Japanese. friends arranged a late-night phone call (from a cleaning closet!) with an offshore mate who knew somebody from a Japanese "campus" and said that was bullshit, they'd be happy to have me.

I was fired about two weeks later, nominally due to the 2008 crash, along with other personnel cuts.

Show thread

Google memories (13/x) 

In one of my last TGIF parties I witnessed a couple execs chatting happily about how they managed to fire 2/3 of temps/part-timers/contractors in Argentina and hey, the office is doing fine. They were laughing about it. Loudly. They didn't care enough to even fake concern.

This was the first time I learned that capitalists are not nuanced villains like in Miyazaki movies. They're sad caricatures, like the villains Captain Planet.

Show thread

Google memories (14/14) 

I was on venlafaxine at the time, and I was ok with working at Google. one time there was a shortage, and after a couple days without the meds I realised how much I hated the company, and corporate tech in general. being fired (with a pregnant wife!) was the best thing that happened to my career. I switched to humanities, never to look back.

I was not surprised when Google kept sliding deeper into evil, I hate tech more than ever, and today I'm an anarcho-communist. fin.

Show thread

@elilla that's on hell of a story, but I respect the transparency. I'll admit blatantly that it was hard for me to see things going downhill from the outside looking in. If you can call it "going downhill"...
My trust in Google was lost years ago, but that doesn't stop the company from going on, unfortunately. I'm not really sure what can be done about it sometimes. :/

@elilla Thanks so much, reading you was very educational. It's worse than I thought.

Google memories (14/14) 

@elilla
I know that I'm mostly naive when it comes to most things in life, but that was truly eye opening. I suspected, though had no true idea, just how awful Google was.

I'm sorry you had to experience it in such a personal, first-handed way.

Google memories (14/14) 

@jocelynk @elilla it reads a bit like a first-person live-tooting of Dan Mitchell's "The Circle"! 😱

:anartrans_symbol_black: :anartrans_symbol_black: :anartrans_symbol_black:

Google memories (14/14) 

@elilla
thank you for sharing! , wow frick..

Google memories (14/14) 

@elilla i’ve listened to a first-hand variation on this very theme from a longtime friend in UX/UI design who worked for amazon, and i saw glimmers/dark moments of this as a contractor for microsoft, among others

Google memories (14/14) 

@elilla Thank you for sharing that. It's now easy to see Google as a «great villain», but to what extente exactly is still difficult to understand, and this testimony from inside is really precious.

Re: Google memories 

@elilla all extremely relatable to my experience at bluesite as a naieve 23 yr old.

Google memories (14/14) 

@elilla Já eu to no caminho "contrário", eu sou designer formado mas não tem dado certo. Comecei uma graduação em Ciência de Dados, pq está em expansão e tem possibilidade de um salário menor. Mas só escolhi assim pq tenho pouca perspectiva que meus outros sonhos fossem dar certo, pq preciso de grana pra começar uma marcenaria e fabricar meus projetos.

Google memories (14/14) 

@elilla oh wow, thanks for this peek into G.

Google memories (14/14) 

@elilla thank you for sharing!

Google memories (14/14) 

@elilla How are you making money in humanities?

Google memories (14/14) 

@dmbaturin I am funded by the European Research Council to document and analyse endangered Japanese dialects.

Google memories (14/14) 

@elilla I see.

I have a mixed feeling about those. It's kinda sad to see a part of humanity's heritage go away, but on the other hand, endangered languages seem like a relic of a time when global communication was impossible.
They could only perist in a world where you couldn't even easily visit your neighbors.

Google memories (14/14) 

@dmbaturin not true. plenty of minority lects (languages+dialects) survived for millennia in extensive pancultural networks, coexisting with lingua francas. multilingualism is the norm for premodern societies (cf. Amazon, Australia, PNG etc.); monolingualism is a late European anomaly.

what creates monolingualism isn’t global communication, it’s monocultural colonisation. what kills lects isn’t knowing a lingua franca; it’s when you are ashamed to teach children your own.

Google memories (14/14) 

@dmbaturin @elilla The job of the linguist here is to document. Whether a language continues to be spoken is a decision that regards the speech community. Some don't want the language, some do but are oppressed, and the two intersect.

A more connected world leads inevitably to larger lingua francas. But extinction of other languages is not a necessary consequence of such process. It's been a deliberate result of nationalism and colonialism throughout millennia.

re: Google memories (14/14) 

@elilla Fascinating read, thank you!

I'm curious what do you do now? Have you found fulfilling work?

re: Google memories (14/14) 

@alcinnz I do linguistics research on Japanese dialects.

to be very frank I think fulfilment is impossible in a capitalist system. but as far as being in the system goes, I think at an individual level my job is about as good as it gets. the hard part is global warming, the growth of fascism etc.

these days I find fulfilment in building community and preparing for a better society. if I could go back, I probably would've gotten into ecology or social work instead.

re: Google memories (14/14) 

@elilla My impression is that, with effort, it's somewhat possible.

I do standards development work which I see as interesting and vital (both to address future crises & make computers Just Work), but anything I truly value is an even harder sell!

Trying to rearchitect GIS tools to use a more straightforward datamodel has led to *some* income, but takes difficult marketting effort I don't have patience for.

Google memories (13/x) 

@elilla
They sound like #corporatists, the extreme form of #capitalist.

Transnational corporations are often considered to big to fail and thus engage in heinous behaviour because they know they'll be protected.

During #coronavirus the #moneyPrinter has been running non stop for so-called small and medium sized business. Businesses with less than 500 employees per location?

Google memories (12/x) 

@elilla Can confirm; you were dismissed one year after I was. I worked on the Checkout team during 2007, and literally everything you wrote was true for me as well.

To this day, Google's headhunters occasionally reach out to hire me back as a full-time engineer instead of a contractor, even though they get 20K+ applications from potential "Newglers" a year. "Come back! We've changed!" they say. Mmmhmmm.

Google memories (9/x) 

@usul writing from memory and it’s been way too long for me to remember; I never knew the person who wrote that intranet post, it was just brought to my attention due to my situation… they were not from Google Brazil, that much I remember.

Google memories (9/x) 

@elilla One thing I always found striking was that although I had multiple friends who went to work for Google, none of them ever talked about what it was like...

Google memories (8/x) 

@elilla
What did he say, and you quote? There is something missing from your post.

Google memories (8/x) 

@Hyolobrika it's next on thread, on 9/x.

Google memories (8/x) 

@elilla
Wierd, I didn't see it under 8/x at first but now I tapped on the notification I can. Must be a UI quirk of my client. Anyway never mind.

Google memories (7/x) 

@elilla I am so very unsurprised, you wouldn't believe.

Last boost from @elilla is a good read and I encourage you to read the whole thread. I see many parallels in my former employer.

@ifixcoinops Sad thing is when I imagine building a company and then later start thinking rationally, I can't really see a way out of becoming at least somewhat evil. The way things are the small & honest fail slowly or suddenly, the small and dishonest grows, & the large is only large b/c it was dishonest back when it was small. At the very least you need to avoid tax and underpay employees to make sth akin to a white collar wage w/o investments.
@elilla We all fell, the acting was brilliant...

@cadadr Or it goes the way of Cisco and the principled founders are forced out.

@ifixcoinops @elilla

Google memories (1/x) 

@elilla anyone who doubts they'd get sucked in in the early 2000s is either a liar or doesn't have an engineering nor idealist bone in their body.

re: Google memories (1/x) 

@FuckOffGoogleZurich @elilla I see you didn't bother to read literally any part of this thread

Google memories (1/x) 

@elilla Don't feel bad, I might have ended up at Google if they hadn't shut down their Austin office and required everyone move to SF. At the time I didn't realize just how advertising was the fundamental cause of everything wrong with social media, or how quickly Google would shift to outright evil.

@elilla This is exactly the kind of fluffy bunny fascism google has been, living, breathing and promoting right from the beginning.

Thank you so much for sharing this.

#fckgoogle #surveillancecapitalism #workersrights #unionizeIT

Google memories (1/x) 

@elilla thanks for sharing

Sign in to participate in the conversation
Queer Party!

A silly instance of Mastodon for queer folk and non-queer folk alike. Let's be friends!