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Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Samizdata quote of the day

Surely it was sad when the Renaissance in Florence ended. Sure it is sad that the Renaissance in San Jose and Palo Alto ends. But things move on and bright productive brains meet somewhere else, most likely online now.

– A commenter writing on Eric Raymond’s “Armed and Dangerous” blog about the firing of an employee at Google for challenging certain notions around diversity in the workplace.

I think it may be too early to judge if this sort of issue is going to dent Google and hit its share price in the next few months but if this culture of SJW bullying does grip more firmly on that business, and others in Silicon Valley, then the prediction made above here may prove to be accurate.

24 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • Paul Marks

    For years it has been pointed out that California is a daft place to base a business in – the taxes, the regulations…..

    However, the response of the “tech community” has been “ah but the free creative culture…..”

    That would be the culture in which people are dismissed for politely expressing their opinions.

    A pox on “left coast” “culture” – bleep the internet companies.

    At least the Chinese are open about hating Freedom of Speech – the “left coast” people are hypocrites. And it is not just the “left coast” – Corporate America is rotten to the core, full of university “educated” types who hate freedom (whilst pretending to love it).

  • Mr Ed

    Decay is usually a slow process, the inertia behind Google and indeed Silicon Valley is great. I remember telling my employer’s IT department about Google when we just had browsers installed on our work PCs, and their main focus was stopping Hotmail use in work time. That was this century. Time will tell, but when so many vote for Hillary and Jeremy, what hope is there that people will move away from what is the ‘easiest’ option. Free stuff, that sounds easy, use Google, that sounds easy.

  • Spruance

    When California implodes all these progressive people will scurry throughout the US and tell those backwards people there how to run a decent country. Or did they already?

  • PeterT

    A certain amount of group think – or at least group ethos – can be useful if you are working in an emergent industry. In a mature industry however, dissent becomes more important, as preserving value is to a greater extent about not messing up, rather than moving forward. Having been on a combined mission of creating profits through innovation, and ‘not being evil’; the easy innovations have been made, which means that more attention is being put on ‘not being evil’, i.e. furthering social justice (in their view.)

  • PeterT

    By the way, I’ve always thought that the internet industry would be a very good setting for a modern version of Atlas Shrugged. There is an excellent TV series about a group of people in the IT industry, starting from the early 80s (I think) up to the internet era. It is called ‘halt and catch fire’. It would be a simple matter to rewrite this slightly to turn it into a pro-capitalism show. “Galt’s gulch” could easily be some alternate world online where individuals transact outside of the control of the government (or Google).

  • staghounds

    “It would be a simple matter to rewrite this slightly to turn it into a pro-capitalism show.”

    Good luck with that, I’ll hold your beer.

  • Patrick Crozier

    It is shocking how quickly Google has gone from “Don’t be evil” to the precise opposite. Five years perhaps?

    So many great products: Search, Chrome, Android, Drive, Maps, Latitude, GMail. And now this wholesale betrayal.

  • Mr Ed

    Following on from Patrick’s point, here is Steve Jobs introducing the iPhone in 2007, a fairly big leap 10 years ago. Who knows what is around the corner?

  • Michael Taylor

    It’ll take a very long time – there’s lot’s of ruin in an empire.

    But I think we can expect Google to feature in future business case-studies, trying to identify the tipping point at which workplace bullying becomes so oppressive that it makes it ever more difficult and/or more expensive to hire good people, whilst attracting cohorts of ever-more-extreme workplace bullies.

    My guess is that Google’s current heresy-hunters will be safe in their jobs for another 20yrs minimum. But by the time they retire, Google’s heydays will be only a memory.

  • bobby b

    Near 50% of Americans voted for Clinton. Near 50% of Britons voted to Remain.

    This isn’t a case where a small minority is driving some cultural despotism. Fully half of the populations of our two countries want to live in the Google culture.

    I think this controversy goes away without a ripple. While half of the USA looks to Google’s culture and points and laughs, the other half is looking at the first half and thinking us troglodytes for not embracing their utopian vision.

    All of those Two Minute Hates in Nineteen Eighty-Four were voluntary.

  • Darrell

    Celebrate Diversity has become Celebrate Diversity, Or Else. Who didn’t see that coming?

  • John K

    “War is peace, freedom is slavery, ignorance is strength, diversity is uniformity.”

    I think that works quite well as Google’s new motto. Certainly that “don’t be evil” shit is now rather passe. I suppose they could just drop the “don’t”.

  • Johnathan Pearce (London)

    On another forum a woman told me that my arguments about the foolishness of Google were worthless because she had the “lived experience” of knowing women who are upset at this man. She actually told me that any arguments I could use were worthless. I pointed out that being bullied at work might be worse than reading an email you disagree with. I was told this was a “sob story” and an example of “mansplaining”. She therefore made the sacked guy’s point for me, perfectly.

    At times it is hard to see how a country that is in thrall to this sort of stuff was anyway connected to the one that put Neil and Buzz on the Moon.

  • Mr Ed

    Surely if Google employs on the basis of politics and not merit, and has all these SJWs arsing about all day, it is ripe for a takeover? All that latent value being frittered away?

  • Nicholas (Unlicenced Joker) Gray

    In some recent movies about kids trapped in a maze, the slogan on the walls was ‘Wicked is Good!’. Google could just say ‘Evil is good’.

  • Paul Marks

    Take over by who Mr Ed?

    All the university educated “creative industry” zillionaires are in favour of the Frankfurt School of Marxism egalitarian “Diversity” agenda.

    They think that appointing people on the basis that that they are black-disabled-lesbians-with-hispanic-names will make the left like them – it will not, the left will kill them (and their families) anyway.

    Besides the rich “creative industry” types really being in the Marxist egalitarian “Diversity” agenda – they think it is good. If they were consistent they would hang themselves (and thus save the Frankfurt School people the trouble of executing them – executing them for being rich) – after all the Founders of all the big internet companies have some things in common.

    They are all, white, male and heterosexual – by their own “Diversity” doctrine they are, therefore, evil.

    The real left are painting slogans such as “eat the rich” on walls in San Francisco (and other cities).

    And when these people launch their “take over” Mr Ed – the very rich people who control Google and so on will find that “eat the rich” is meant literally.

  • Mr Ed

    Take over by who Mr Ed?

    Someone willing to fire all the SJWs, HR-Commissars and most of the lawyers, and hire and keep the best coders, product developers and sellers, accountants and a payroll clerk, thereby stripping out cost, waste, and impediments to development. And perhaps willing to relocate it to Texas.

  • madrocketsci

    I imagine that real programmers will scatter to the winds and start up new software companies elsewhere. After all, in this industry at least, the “means of production” is any laptop/desktop. I was reading some more ludicrous assertions by one of the people piling onto the heretic: That “anyone can code, what we really need are people with organizing and collaborating skills.” Yeah …. (organizing *what*? collaborating with whom on what?) Silicon Valley must have reached it’s apex a decade ago or more, as a place where software engineers could actually be themselves and find an appropriate valuation of their skills, could run their own companies in their own way with a way of working that worked for them. This devaluing of engineers and herding them into call centers and trying to bust them down into serfdom: This is a cargo-cult parasitic class of managers who want to scrape together any old pile of techno-serfs and make them do the magic thing where all the previous creation happened, for a barely living wage … anyway I’m rambling. It can’t last.

    I’ve often thought for years that there are other toxic aspects of the social experimentation being pushed from the top down at these bay-area companies. The open-plan office push is sheer lunacy in a job where the work involves deep and complex thought. I’ve never understood why a profession that appeals to (and requires the mental habits of) introverts could survive the “you don’t get a desk, or walls, or a space to call yours – you check your laptop out of a locker and move around a cafeteria table musical-chairs style” environment.) For some reason, New Soviet Man isn’t supposed to *want* privacy, and is supposed to be indifferent to any Tom Dick and Harry steaming up the backside of their monitor.

    In my case, some degree of privacy is a psychological *need*. I don’t *want* it – I *need* it. It seems almost hostile, the way the modern workplace seeks to deny it to the people most in need of it.

  • madrocketsci

    That’s another thing I’ve been noticing in my reading of biographies of early engineers and physicists. It seems there has been a massive erosion of professional independence and the ability to command the environment among all engineers. (A loss of ‘social status’ I suppose) Every hierarchical organization is eventually going to aggrandize managers over the people who actually do the work. But it seems in the 40s/50s/60s, an engineer would have very wide latitude to tell his boss what he needed to get the job done. Kelly Johnson’s people didn’t have to freaking justify their office supplies to a RFD committee.

    In the bomb program, the physicists pretty much imported their entire way of working from East-European academia. The federal bureaucracy was there in the background, but didn’t interrupt or reorganize the way the scientists wanted to work as they had their colloquia and their random experiments, and their side-projects. They didn’t have to push too hard to convince anyone why they needed an electronic computer to play with, or why they needed X or Y bit of expensive apparatus. (Or why they spent so much time in their offices chalking up their blackboards). The bureaucracy mostly confined itself to logistics and ensuring people were getting everything *they* said they needed.

    In the organizations that I’ve worked with so far (moving again soon, so I hope this changes) the engineers are serfs. They get to ‘advise’ people in upper management on technical issues that they are given almost no information about, on a product where they don’t even have access to the actual engineering information. They can put their two cents in, but really have no real say.

  • bobby b


    Not at a P/E of 33, market cap of $634,000,000,000.00. Who could afford it?

    More likely would be a shareholder rebellion and an ouster of Pichai, and a redirection of the working assets back into business as opposed to SJW-fantasies.

  • EdMJ

    @madrocketsci – Agree, open plan is detrimental to developer productivity. There are a few voices in the wilderness advocating against it though, Fog Creek one of the more vocal: https://medium.com/make-better-software/apple-is-about-to-do-something-their-programmers-definitely-dont-want-fc19f5f4487

    Also agree about the devaluing of engineers. See it a lot in Scrum planning these days where everyone feels qualified to chip in with a time estimate regardless of whether they have the slightest idea of what they’re talking about or not.

    @Johnathan: “At times it is hard to see how a country that is in thrall to this sort of stuff was anyway connected to the one that put Neil and Buzz on the Moon.”

    You misogynist – don’t you realise that that was the ultimate expression of patriarchal domination? A giant phallus breaching the nether regions of Gaia the Earth Goddess and defiling the unspoiled surface of her daughter Luna with male oppression as they pierced her with a flag (and an American one at that!) as she shrieked in silent agony. #Spaceflight is planet rape. #Safe spaces not space races.

    Ah, I see Milo beat me to it:


  • Alisa

    Wow wow wow careful there EdMJ – some of us are prone to involuntary conversion of words into mental images! 😈

  • bobby b

    August 11, 2017 at 10:23 am

    ” . . . defiling the unspoiled surface of her daughter Luna . . . “

    Whatever happened to The Man In The Moon?

    Guess we’d better find out what pronouns the moon prefers these days.

  • Sonny Wayze

    [[Johnathan Pearce

    On another forum a woman told me that my arguments about the foolishness of Google were worthless because she had the “lived experience” of knowing women who are upset at this man.]]

    I’ve always hated that ‘lived experience’ cra… nonsense. What other kind of experience is there *except* lived?