As of March 17th I’ll be an ex-employee. It’s an amicable separation in the face of irreconcilable differences: I wouldn’t move to California and Google wouldn’t open a Vancouver office. I haven’t decided what to do next.
Let’s go with Q&A format.
Seriously, about remote work? · Yep. Both before and after being hired, I had been asked to consider moving south. I didn’t want to and politely declined. Eventually, the group I’m in politely informed me that staying remote wasn’t an option. I talked to a couple of other groups but my heart wasn’t really in it, because I decided Google’s position was correct.
But isn’t remote work the future? · I don’t know. I’m pretty sure it’s possible to build a company around the notion of a distributed workforce, but I don’t know how far you can scale it. Anyhow, that’s not the kind of company Google has chosen to build. How reasonable is it to argue, given the results they’ve been getting?
I would have been more effective in my job if I’d moved, and probably would have enjoyed the work more.
So why not move already? · Because my heart is in Vancouver, its greens and greys and unfussily variegated people, and in Canada. Plus I find the Bay Area congested, racist, incestuous, and overpriced. So I was never really tempted.
How do you feel? · Sad; I’ll miss the chance to use the Google fulcrum which, applied intelligently, has enough leverage to move the whole Internet. Also, a lot of really cool people work there; I’ll miss them most. And the pay is good.
So you’re mad at Google? · Nope; they gave me four years of super-interesting work, paid me generously, and the termination arrangements were fair.
Now you can say it: Google is actually evil, right? · I don’t think so; but get back to me later. I shouldn’t write too much about Google in-the-large until I’ve got more perspective.
Also I know all sorts of non-public information which I’ve promised to keep non-public; and I keep my promises. So I have to be super-careful not to offer opinions too informed by that sort of data.
What’s next? · Beats me. Seriously, I haven’t figured that out. From a financial point of view I could just stop working, but that would be boring and unhealthy. On the other hand, spring’s almost here and summer’s around the corner, and I’d like to drink a little deeper of both than I have in recent years.
Will you be CTO for our wonderful startup? · Probably not, even if it combines Internet of Things, Big Data, and Gamification. Especially not those things.
I suffer from possibly-excessive cynicism and haven’t seen a new technology in a while that struck me as a real life-changer-at-scale. So I have trouble imagining a product I could get behind with startup-level commitment.
But I totally enjoy getting startup pitches and if you give me yours, I might have something useful to say.
What are you interested in? · I’m interested in the Internet and its interaction with the world. I care so much more about the thing as a whole than any of the products that inhabit it. A chance to serve as a full-time partisan of the Net, especially with a bit of technology hands-on, would get my attention.
On the policy side, I’m interested in the power relationships around identity and privacy, and how to use market forces and regulations in the interest of the people who use the Internet.
On the technology side, I’m interested in identity protocols, functional programming, and augmented reality. In recent weeks, I’ve been troubled by an insanely ambitious augmented-reality idea, a notion that could touch a billion lives, only I don’t see how you make money with it. I probably lack the will-power to not tinker with it.
Realistically, I probably should do something connected to Identity, because the issues aren’t easy to master; I know because I just invested a couple of years trying. And I’m really good at explaining OAuth.
I feel deepening guilt about never having done much teaching. My profession has been immoderately generous in teaching me over the decades and there should be a way to give back. On the other hand, while I give good public speeches, that doesn’t necessarily mean I’d be a good teacher.
Will you keep blogging? · I can’t not write, about the world in general, life online in particular, and Internet technology in particular particular. It’ll be easier now that I don’t have to assume that my voice will be taken for Google’s. It’d be nice to be paid for it but I’ll do it in any case.
And in the short term? · There are a few more weeks of Google work. Starting Feb. 25th I’ll be at MWC in Barcelona, helping launch OpenID Connect; if you’re there, let’s have tapas! The week of March 3rd I’ll be at IETF 89 in London and would be happy to socialize; or, at either event, to brief you on OpenID Connect (which is really very good) and the details of what Google’s doing with it.
Or to talk about cameras, or Ingress, or your startup, or augmented reality, or whatever it is we as a species are going to do with this Internet thing we’ve created by making it up as we go along. Let’s make up some more!