A Different Kind of Tourism

If a person were to walk from downtown Mountain View (in so far as Mountain View has a town to be down of) to the Computer History Museum, and then kept going, they might find themselves wandering into Shoreline Business Park. This is where you would find the silicon in this part of the valley.

Of course, there isn’t actually a lot of touristing to do in your average industrial park. We’re in Silicon Valley here, though, surely there must be something to see? Well… there are signs for reasonably exciting tech companies, with logos and everything… for example:

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Here’s a fun one. 23 and Me is either a very cool company, or an utterly terrifying one, depending on your point of view. The basic idea is that you send them some of your spit (and some money). They use this to do some basic DNA profiling and tell you about your genetic predisposition towards certain diseases, your genetic predisposition to certain drugs, and a limited amount regarding your actual genetic ancestry. This all comes wrapped up in a neat web interface which updates as new discoveries are made. I’m generally of the the view that this is pretty cool.

Further in we find even more companies, at least one of which you might have even heard of:

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LinkedIn is basically a professional version Facebook. Sort of a fancy online business card holder, networking centre, recruitment system and industry conference all rolled into one. As such, it allows you to show your respectable side to your business contacts, whilst still being able to display that photo set proving that you can get your entire fist in your mouth to your friends. It can be quite useful, but more on that in a moment. I had no idea who the other companies on the sign are, and have not, as yet, felt too much of a need to enlighten myself.

There is, of course, another tech company with a fairly large presence in this business park, but I can’t for the life of me remember their name. Oh, wait, yes. I remember:

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When in doubt, follow the street signs. While I’m sure it is helpful to have signs pointing to stuff (other examples in this estate include “movies” and “amphitheatre”) hanging above the road, making them indistinguishable from street signs is bloody confusing, in my opinion.

Google is, of course, the whole reason I’m in this town, and in fact in this country for these two weeks. For the record, I was recruited via LinkedIn, so it definitely does have it’s uses. One of the reasons for this wander was to get a general idea of the lay of the land surrounding the Googleplex. My overall opinion: it’s big. Luckily, the Google bikes were very much in evidence:

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Often being found looking slightly forlorn in the strangest places. I’m fairly sure the local teens play a bit of cat and mouse with security guards and joyride around the park on them at weekends. This one was close to one of the volleyball courts:

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There actually is a reasonable amount to see, wandering around the campus. Google really does live up to a lot of its hype. One of the more famous landmarks of the campus was actually bloody difficult to find, though. It took a serious amount of detective work, comparing photos from the web to views from Google Maps, but I finally tracked down the “Android Lawn”:

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As it turned out, if I’d just stood up and looked over my right shoulder from the place I was performing all of this furious Googling, I probably would have just spotted the damn thing. Such is life. Strangely enough, I was feeling a little hungry at this point, so I headed home.

Finally, it is important to note that while all of this touristing around is fun, and Google is a fuzzy and well meaning company, you should never forget that these are serious guys, doing a serious job. One most always strive to live up to the standard set by those who come before you, and always act in a professional and responsible manner when surrounded by such a high caliber of people.

Seriousness. Responsibility. Decorum.

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That is all.

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