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Fridays and Talks at Google

March 30, 2018

Fridays are my favorite day at Google. Lots of Googlers work from home on Friday (to the extent that I’m occasionally tempted to send out a WFO email to counterbalance all the WFH emails: “I’ll be working from the office today and attending meetings in person. Available via all the usual means.”), so it’s nice and quiet, and it’s really easy to get into a groove and be really productive. Plus Google has great spaces to work outdoors, so with the warmer weather you can grab a table in the shade and enjoy the fresh air. Samsung Research had nice buildings, but they didn’t really have any good places to work outside (it didn’t help that their campus is right near 101 across from Moffett).

I also really enjoy the Talks at Google series; they aren’t kidding when they call it one of Google’s most beloved perks.Today Niall Ferguson gave a very enjoyable talk on his most recent book The Square and the Tower: Networks and Power, from the Freemasons to Facebook. Given the recent controversy around the influence of social networks on the 2016 election and subsequent developments, I found the talk interesting enough that I grabbed a copy of his book in order to read further.

Last week Kyle Van Houtan gave a talk on the new Ocean Memory Lab at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, discussing various approaches they’ve taken to better understand our oceans by coming up with new ways to fill in the gaps in historical data (for example, using isotope analysis of seabird feathers from museum collections to explore how seabird diets have changed over time, which provides clues as to how fish populations have changed over time).

And I’m still sad that I had to miss QT Luong’s talk on his book Treasured Lands two weeks ago (I had a schedule conflict with a meeting I needed to attend). Just looking at his book online was enough for me to buy up a copy: the pictures of the National Parks are gorgeous. I intend to use it as a sort of “shopping guide” to figure out which National Parks to visit next (Great Basin is a strong contender: it looks beautiful, and it’s one of the least visited parks). Luckily Google posts most of the talks to YouTube, and I fully intend to watch his talk once it’s online.

So today was a fun day. And that’s not even considering it as the gateway to the weekend.

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