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Saturday, November 17, 2012

Reconnaissance inside that place in Mountain View

I went back to Google this morning. Don't worry, it wasn't anything official. I was there as a member of the public who has friends and other contacts inside the company and who lends a hand to help a worthy cause. In this case, there was a "FIRST LEGO League" competition going on, like so many years before, and I helped out by playing music.

The setup is easy enough: I bring a laptop with me, plug into the huge stereo system, and get to use all of the speakers in Charlie's to blast basically anything I want. Obviously, it's all sensible stuff since there are little kids running around. A fair bit of this music runs far newer/younger than I'd normally listen to, since the kids get to make requests, too.

Did you know that a group of 50 or so kids will happily listen to "Gangnam Style" 6 times over the span of 11 hours or so, and they will get up and dance to it every time? Well, you do now. The same goes for Macarena, Conga, and YMCA. There are also a bunch of other tunes and other gag songs on Youtube which are clearly the domain of the far-younger-than-me crowd. One kid would mention it, and a bunch of others from some totally different group and area in the valley would know it immediately.

I fully expected this to happen, given that I'm not 10 years old. That's okay though, since I just took down all of their requests, played them back through my headphones on my phone to make sure they weren't asking for anything filthy, and then queued them up.

I'm happy all of the parents and coaches and other relatively older folks present didn't seem to mind the replays. The kids really enjoyed it, and all of the running around (including an epic conga line or two) was guaranteed to tire them out. I bet there are a bunch of families driving home right now with little ones who are sawing logs in the back seat since they had such a busy and exciting day.

I had a chance to do some recon while on the property, and boy have things changed. One entire side of building 40 has been turned into this palace type thing for wooing customers. I think they actually call it the "Partner Plex". They basically took a space that had been used by SGI to do crazy demos to people, and had then been a bunch of tiny interview rooms in my time, and turned it back into a crazy demo space. The roundabout is gone, and the walkways have been rerouted to make this new space (and new entrance) the obvious focus point when you approach.

Inside Charlie's, there is this solid wall of flat panel displays wrapping from one side of the stage to the other. I think there are probably a dozen laid out end to end, and it's stacked three high.

Clearly, a lot of money has been spent on building 40, and it seems to be all about doing massive spectacle type events. I'm sure everyone there is super proud of it.

It also appears that "Learning on the Loo" still exists. This is the secondary bathroom-reading-material thing which sprang up sometime in the past couple of years, and tended to be really horrible platitudes and bad ideas which had been written by non-technical people. Reading the first couple of ones made me wonder if it was an elaborate joke, but no, they were dead serious.

Check out what I found. It's just amazing.

I'll transcribe this chunk of it for the benefit of those who'd rather not squint at their screen (or who can't see images):

Imagine for a moment that you've just started at one of the top universities on the planet and are surrounded by brilliant and exceptional people. Would you spend all of your time studying or would you make a point of meeting some of the people around you?

Google is just such a place! But how, in this sea of genius, do you actually go about meeting people? Along with social networking, consider food networking! Create a Lunch OKR with the objective to meet new people, have fun, learn about interesting things happening at Google, and of course, eat great food!

Yes, "sea of genius". They actually put that on a publication which is right there in one of the bathrooms used by visitors. I think they need to do some math again. They might not like what they find.

I didn't go looking for snark. Really. The material found me.