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Really Google? REALLY??

April 22, 2010

Google hired Ken Thompson to create a new language.  This makes sense because, as the developer of the C language back in 1973, he obviously knows something about it. 

However, Google WON’T let Thompson check code in because he hasn’t taken a mandatory test to show that he actually has at least some grasp of C – the language he created.

From The Register:

The snippet emerged in a book called Coders At Work,
published last September. We don’t know if the information is still
current, or whether Thompson has finally allowed himself to be subject
to a humiliating examination on the language he invented by an
acne-scarred, know-it-all Oompa-Loompa who is absent-mindedly flicking
paper pellets into a Starbucks cup while Twittering.

But the snippet runs like this:

Q: I know Google has a policy where every new employee has to
get checked out on languages before they’re allowed to check code in.
Which means you had to get checked out on C [which you co-created].

Thompson: Yeah, I haven’t been.

Q. You haven’t been! You’re not allowed to check in code?

Thompson: I’m not allowed to check in code, no… I just
haven’t done it. I’ve so far found no need to.

You normally only see that kind of unthinking servility to bureaucracy in dictatorships or larger centralized governments.  As far as I know, Google isn’t run like a dictatorship, so maybe it has gotten too big and centralized for its own good.


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