Saturday, January 03, 2009

Siva interviews Google's Vint Cerf -- the magic of thinking you can do it

Siva posted the text of an interview he conducted with Vint Cerf at Google earlier this year, on Googlization. Interesting post and I enjoyed reading it, but this caught my eye as it is a timely reminder that the problem with getting into the nitty gritty of various research ideas I wrote about in my last post might be simple cynicism (eek!).

Siva: What aspects of Google have made it such a success?

Vint: Well, we have hired some awfully smart people. And most of them have the benefit of being young. So they don't know "you can't do that." So they just do it.

Plus, the company gives its employees the time to explore new ideas - 20 percent of their time.

The management structure is very flat. And the company has very particular hiring practices and standards. We hire people who are both smart and responsible. They all have a "how can I help" attitude. So you can learn something from almost anyone in the company. You will notice an almost collegial atmosphere here.

I can sure vouch for the collegial atmosphere. It's energizing just to be in the company of that creative, positive vibe. Got to visit once soon after UT joined Google Book Search.

So it seems that life's lessons are quite valuable ... up to a point. Once they convince you that you know how everything works, and how it doesn't work, the balance goes negative. They become a stock to dump, not worth the drag on your potential. Ah, but when does experience carry you across the line? As always, the real issue will be finding the balance between naivete and cynicism. An open mind but not an empty one.

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