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October 21, 2008

at Google

I happen to be in a meeting at the Google headquarters in DC. The place is hip and techie enough that I feel moved to try a little live-blogging, but without quoting or citing any individuals. So...

2:26: Picture an ordinary office building not far from the White House. The interior space has--I suppose deliberately--been left largely unfinished. There are heating ducts everywhere, simply wrapped in foil. There are also a half-dozen large hanging monitors in view, plastic blocks for playing with, and free soft drinks in an open kitchen. Most of the people in room have federal grants for service projects in schools, colleges, or nonprofits. One could imagine a bit of a cultural gap between the audience and the space we're in, although I don't know my peers well enough to guess how they feel. Right now, we are listening to a presentation about Google for Non-Profits. The speaker is wearing a YouTube fleece.

2:32: Just heard about Google's election page, which seems fairly cool overall and has a nice feature that tells you where to vote.

2:45: The Google guy is telling us about how Google Maps can be used to organize a neighborhood cleanup. The Google corporation itself has done that, enlisting its own employees. It interests me that cleaning parks is the inevitable example of a service or volunteering project. I have mixed feelings about this. On one hand, cleanups are limited because they are episodic, completely noncontroversial, and not very educational. On the other hand, litter in public spaces is a classic collective-action problem, and it is interesting to find new ways to address such problems.

2:52: We're getting a dose of advertising for Google's various software offerings. No complaints from me, but I just wonder whether my peers--community-organizers and activists--like this or not. Twenty years ago, they would have been reflexively anti-corporate.

3:15: OK, that's enough. I'm not sure I'm a live-blogging kind of person.

P.S. Later on I figured out the iconography of the Google office design. All the wiring and pipes have been left exposed. Transparency--get it?

October 21, 2008 2:18 PM | category: Internet and public issues | Comments


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