Rob Galanakis commented on my Google+ post for "Leaving Google" that I might’ve “caught a fair bit of flak and bad will from people for writing [so much about Google in this blog] but [he’s] glad that didn’t stop [me]”. Well, leaving comments off my blog and resorting to Google+ instead tends to keep the anonymous cowards away, and all of the feedback I’ve managed to see online—from my dozen or so readers—has been largely positive. But I should be so flattered to think that such anonymous cowards exist in the first place.
However, let’s imagine what I could possibly expect to catch flak for. Could it be for talking about code and other information that has been open-sourced? Infrastructure and tools that’ve been published in white papers or on official blogs? Data that have appeared in other public presentations, many of which are freely available on the web? Other tools and concepts and details which have been published on TotT or show up in folks’ résumés—making them effectively public information? Or perhaps other bits that hadn’t otherwise been published previously, which provide new and (hopefully) interesting insight into Google Engineering but don’t reveal any business-sensitive information?
Might it be for speaking frankly about how damn awesome my Google experience was, putting a human, sometimes irreverent face on at least one aspect of Google Engineering culture that’s largely been swept under the rug? For mentioning names of real people when administering fair credit or recalling fond memories, while those who I criticize specifically, excepting myself, remain anonymous? For occasionally poking at the foibles of Google culture, to make a larger point or otherwise provide context for the story? Could it be because sometimes, in the telling of a story about real people, the polish of the corporate image is ZOMFG smudged—or even worse, upstaged? For talking about real change in a real organization that had real problems—that were really solved by real people, and not some corporate superhero or magic wand?
Might I expect such flak for psychological reasons, because some folks are nagged by the insecurity that comes with realizing you can’t control what someone else thinks or says in a free society, especially after they’ve broken free from the alliance and now dwell along the rim—that you can’t stop the signal?
I’m not stupid, irresponsible, or malicious, and I’m damn sure not a traitor. Maybe slightly narcissistic if anything—just like anyone else who dares publish a non-corporate-sanctioned experience or opinion after leaving a company. Hence, I’d find such flak positively mystifying. It’s not like I’ve ever leaked company goals, executive memos, holiday gifts, or phynancial reports that caused the stock to take a 9% nosedive. I don’t think I’m in possession of any information that could make the stock dip by even 0.0009%, if I even wanted to publish such things, especially now that I’ve been gone over a year. Quite the contrary, everything I’ve written (with the exception of my reasons for leaving Google) has been aimed at pointing out how wonderful Google was, so that others might be inspired by its example; to tell the story of why the Grouplets were important, if under-recognized; to show a side of Google Engineering that was quite special while it lasted; and to give Google credit and praise for giving engineers room to solve engineering and organizational problems the right way: their own way.
So in light of such potential “flak”, it’s hardly anything that would ever stop me. It’s pretty small potatoes compared to the kind of flak my partners-in-crime and I faced directly while actually doing, over the course of five years, the things I’ve written about—not to mention groundless. That said, it would be flattering to discover my under-publicized ramblings have warranted enough attention to earn such devoted enemies. If I ever feel recharged and inspired, I may return to post about the Revolution, the Fixit Grouplet, and the TAP Fixit—some of the most exhilarating and triumphant achievements in the whole Grouplet saga—and see if lightning strikes. But for now, my Strat beckons…