A Shift In Perspective

I joined Yahoo! a short while ago, after having spent a few years at startups/small companies. I see the world now through purple-colored lenses, and look forward to the views that this change in perspective brings me. I have never worked at a “big” company before, and have never worked with teams larger than perhaps a dozen people, and all that is going to change in my life.

I am being mysterious here, because I would like to remain as anonymous as possible. Perhaps this blog will always remain undiscovered and perhaps it won’t. All the same, it is better that I speak about myself in generality, because I will speak of my experiences, and those around me, at Yahoo! with much more specificity, and I would rather not accidentally expose myself to disapproval from my co-workers. Nothing I will write here, hopefully, will be confidential and drop me into legal hot water, but some of it might certainly be mildly insulting, if not incendiary.

My experiences at Yahoo!, especially where it is now as a company, are rich fodder for a lot of philosophical thinking about the nature of work, and human interactions. Yahoo! is not the media’s darling, and it has had to report failing profit growth. However, Yahoo! still holds a commanding presence on the battlefield of Internet search/media/life-engine companies, and quite a lot of that glory owes itself to the work of some very successful groups within Yahoo!. These groups are rightfully proud of what they do, and their pride leads to a fair amount of jealousy in turn from those that are not part of this elite. All of this leads to a lot of grandstanding, internal bickering, navel gazing and heartburn in various quantities. Students of theatre and literature will readily recognize the most apposite ingredients for a first-rate drama, or, at the very least, a ratings-leading soap opera.

Today, for example, I realized that there are a few schools of argument that frequently pop up in discussions, and to members of that school, all support and opposition relies on a few succinct tenets. No wonder these mail list discussions have long been known as “religious wars.”

One of these schools asks, “Why copy Google?” All company products and product decisions are judged on the basis of whether Google has already done it, and if it has, the decision is somehow tainted. Another school asks, “Will this lead to more ads?” and automatically assumes that more ads will kill the success, beauty or some other desirable, if ineffable, quality of the product.

What is interesting is when two of these schools collide, as in when “Why copy Google?” is challenged with “Because it reduces the number of ads.” There is of course no logic inherent in these arguments, because there is no axiomatic system that is agreed upon. It is truly a battle of ideas, meaning not, in the generally accepted sense that ideas are debated upon via some rational dialectic, but that Ideas — Concepts encapsulated in pithy statements like “The search experience has improved,” or “This will reduce infrastructural overlap” — are used as weapons to bludgeon each other over the head with.

If this is not the way of Politics, I don’t know what is.

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One Response to “A Shift In Perspective”

  1. ClapSo Says:

    Very good post and wonderful idea you have for this blog. I look forward to reading it in future.

    You might want to pick up a copy of the book “White Collar” by C. Wright Mills. It might offer you some interesting insights…

    The scientifically impossible I do right away
    The spiritually miraculous takes a bit longer

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