First of all, I should announce my editorship (starting today) of another blog, the Android Developers Blog. But at Google there are stories behind the stories.

Android Dev Blog · It’s been around since November 2007, way before I’d ever heard of Android. In recent times it’s been used somewhat like a press-release channel; each of the pieces heavily group-edited into just-the-facts mode. Perfectly OK (if a bit tedious) when that’s the kind of channel you want.

It seemed obvious to me that there was scope for a real bloggy kind of blog, since there are a ton of interesting stories inside Android crying to be told. So I said that a few times and I suspect irritated a few people, and the upshot was I got the whole thing dropped into my lap.

Let me drive a stake in the ground: If you want to know the actual technical substance of what’s being built here, or to read inside-Android stories, that blog is the place to come, or rather subscribe to if you really care.

Blogging at Google · It’s hard, way harder than I’d realized. There’s this thing in the company culture where everyone is very free with information, internally, and expected to be very close-mouthed, externally. Within a few days of arriving, my brain was bulging with more Really Big Secrets than I’d picked up in years at Sun.

In fact, I now know how much storage we’re dedicating to support... hold on, even mentioning what it’s being used for would probably get my ass appropriately fired. And so on. There are a million stories around here and a person like me who can’t not write is dying to tell them; but it’s really hard to keep track of which ones are fair game.

To make matters worse, Google is interesting. Since I’ve come to work here, my blog readership and Twitter follower-count have both ballooned, and I’ve noticed that more or less anything we say, whether or not I think it matters, is news.

Twitter followers, courtesy of twittercounter.com

Twitter follower count; I started at Google on March 15th. Statistics courtesy of twittercounter.com.

On top of which there are many out there who are kind of scared and nervous about Google, for a variety of reasons some of which are perfectly reasonable. And there are those, including some who write for large audiences, looking to pounce with glee on any whiff of evil or hypocrisy. Fair enough, I suppose, since Google presents what we in the trade call a Large Attack Surface.

Which means that Google in general and the Android project in particular are careful, verging on paranoid, about what gets said in public.

Since I’ve been here, I’ve argued repeatedly that there are a lot of people who would like to like us, and that there are lot of stories here that would be good to tell; that the rewards of open-ness greatly exceed the risks. There are people here, including some very important ones, who are unconvinced. But they’re still giving this a chance. Let’s hope I’m right.



Contributions

Comment feed for ongoing:Comments feed

From: Simon Phipps (Apr 29 2010, at 01:30)

Presumably there is a similar explanation to why why Google engineers so rarely show up identifiably in open source communities?

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From: Carl (Apr 29 2010, at 03:45)

Well congratulations for landing your new Editing job of the Android developers Blog!

<<Since I’ve been here, I’ve argued repeatedly that there are a lot of people who would like to like us,... that the rewards of open-ness greatly exceed the risks. There are people here, including some very important ones, who are unconvinced. But they’re still giving this a chance. Let’s hope I’m right.>>

The reasons I "like" Google are pretty straightforward: As long as Google lobbies to keep the Internet open and free they have my support. As long as Google supports OSS they have my support. As long as Google takes a strong stand on reforming our utterly broken Patent system, then they have my fullest support (I hope google will put their money where their mouth is...)

I happen to know that the above reasons are not only my reasons for supporting Google, but most other professionals I know in the Software Industry feel strong sympathy to those values.

I think that the reason why some important people at google are "unconvinced", is because there is serious evil afoot in the Media & Publishing scene, and I am getting the impression that they will use anything against google that is publically said.

In my opinion it would be fair game if google actually produced more News in the sense of having their own Editorial Staff, and actively influencing the Headlines...

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From: Andreas Trawöger (Apr 29 2010, at 04:03)

As an outside person I can only guess what is happening within Google.

But what makes you wonder is that Google developers not only communicate much with the rest of the world they also seem to shun other groups within Google.

If you look at Chrome, Chrome OS and Android they are based on very similar technologies like Webkit, OpenGL, optimized VMs, Linux, SQLlite, D-Bus ...

But as soon as you take a deeper look you find out that they use different Webkit Versions, different display driver, different Linux Kernels, different Vms, different bootloaders, different userspace tools, different SQLlite version, different programming languages ...

Using e.g. different programming languages can make sense if you want to attract different kinds of programmers, but what exactly are reasons for havening multiple implementations of commands like 'ls'?

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From: kaluza (Apr 29 2010, at 04:13)

I think that it's a terrific idea. "Multitasking the Android way" post gives you a lot of useful information. At least more than a "raw" list of new features on the new version of the SDK.

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From: Joe (Apr 29 2010, at 06:18)

Makes a bunch of sense to me -- good luck steering between not-open-enough and too-open.

What's up with the absence of commenting on the android blog? More Google policy?

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From: A.B.Leal (Apr 30 2010, at 07:51)

>From: Andreas Trawöger (Apr 29 2010, at 04:03)

>As an outside person I can only guess what is happening within Google.

[good look at multiple versions of many pieces of software]

>but what exactly are reasons for havening multiple implementations of commands like 'ls'?

Watch it, they may hire you and say: “OK, it’s your problem now.”

(Interview question: is fixing this possible, and/or worth doing ?)

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From: Kevin Reid (May 01 2010, at 10:26)

I just clicked over to http://android-developers.blogspot.com/ and find that neither arrow keys nor space bar work to scroll the page as they should. I am disproportionately irritated. You may wish to eliminate or constrain whatever it is that is overriding normal browser behavior.

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From: Eric Mill (May 03 2010, at 18:14)

As an app developer, Android evangelist, and and subscriber of the Android Dev blog since late 2008, I can say that it has been supremely boring, and barely worth the subscription.

You're totally right to push them to be more open and liven it up. I'll be excited to learn more, both technically and culturally, about Android.

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April 28, 2010
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I am an employee of Amazon.com, but the opinions expressed here are my own, and no other party necessarily agrees with them.

A full disclosure of my professional interests is on the author page.