About this blog.

My son was diagnosed with PDD-NOS at 24 months. I created this blog to bring meaning to the often-confusing label. Sometimes I have answers. Other times, just more questions.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Google Critic Wants You Aspies to Appreciate His Pretty Little Designs

Apparently, Google is some sort of hotbed of aspergian thought. Who knew? Google is an employer that values engineering prowess, and doesn't penalize its employees for weak social skill. That's a good thing, right?

Wrong, according to this esoteric rant:

Google was founded by extreme-male-brain nerds and, by all outward appearances, seems to hire only that type of person, not all of them male. Apart from Bowman, I can think of only two Google employees I could stand to be around for longer than an elevator ride.
See, the blogger is unhappy that Google drove its marquee designer, Bowman, to quit. He continues:

My impression of “Googlers,” which I concede is based on little direct knowledge and is prejudicial on its face, is one of undersocialized, uncultured, pampered, arrogant faux-savants who have cultivated an arrested adolescence that the Google working environment further nurtures. Their computer-programming skills, the sole skills valued by the company, camouflage the flaws of their neuroanatomy. Their brains are beautifully suited to the genteel eugenics program that is the Google hiring process but are broken for real-world use.


Isn't this analogous to attending Spelman College and complaining about the emphasis on African studies? I mean, really, it's Google, a company built on a search algorythm.

And for these engineers whom the blogger stereotypically dubs aspergian, Google and companies like Google likely represent an oasis in a desert of prejudice. A place where they are valued because of who they are, not in spite of it. A place where failure to comply with the rules of social order doesn't hold them back.

Here, the coin is flipped. Whereas, in the majority of society, the neurotypical blogger is in the majority, with aspergians in the minority, at Google (and companies like Google), it's the reverse. And the blogger complains: aspergians have no taste and can't entertain him longer than an elevator ride. Well, boo f ing hoo! Isn't that unfair. Welcome to high school for the average aspergian. Newsflash: life isn't fair.

So the good news is that society is moving in the right direction. There are geographic pockets and industry sectors in which aspies can thrive. Aspergians are shining, and society is valuing their contributions.

The bad news is that it appears that an ugly backlash is under way, as evidenced by the rant.

[Via Gawker]

Updated April 29, 2009


indigo doll said...

well. bitter much, fawny?

"I also read a posting, which I now cannot find after extraordinary effort*, that claimed there really is a renaissance (actually a naissance) of design literacy inside large tech companies.."

*try google?

fabulous post, laura. i laughed... i seethed.

joeclark said...

Bowman quit; he wasn’t fired. (And the word you’re looking for is “marquee.” Bowman is not de Sade.)

Aspergerian male single-mindedness works well for programming computers for long periods of time. Those skills are in demand at Google. They just aren’t the only skills Google needs.

When you have some evidence that a monoculture of computer-obsessed nerds is a guarantee of success even for a technology company in the absence of a true mixture of experience and skills, please provide it. The book Leadership and the Sexes goes into some detail about how technology firms like IBM have adapted their cultures to suit neurotypical male and female brains, so the evidence is out there if you want to quote it.

Unless you just think that the social ramifications of people with borderline Asperger’s or other autistic-spectrum disorders should never be discussed, which I believe is your true intent.

Laura said...

indigo doll - good one *high five*

Joe/Fawny, welcome, and thanks for the comment. Interesting that you would cite diversity of thought and ideas in support of your prejudicial rant, all the while prohibiting comments on your blog.

Show you evidence? LOL. If a business model doesn't work, the business will fail. And, in turn, if staffing based on a neurotype in fact takes place and yields an inferior product or service, then the market will punish the company. So far that has happened, has it - to Google or Microsoft anyway.

Also, you're preaching to the wrong person. I don't even know what to do with a Mac. Looks pretty though. Maybe a desk ornament?

indigo doll said...

between you and me laura, i was about to accuse joeclark of exploiting a thin, speculative and prejudicial argumentary stance... but then i realised that in doing this he has endeared google to me by a whopping increment of 17% since this morning. oh, the irony, etc.

Quirky Mom said...

Bravo to Google, is all I have to say.

rhemashope said...

I recently read an article about a software-testing company in which 75% of the individuals have ASD: http://hbswk.hbs.edu/item/5869.html

Joseph said...

It's like affirmative action for neurologies, except it's not government guided. What exactly is the problem? I think Google managers are probably quite capable of deciding who to hire.

Laura said...

rhemashope - isn't that interesting. Too bad there's not something like that in the US.

Joseph - agree!

joeclark said...

You have the right to enable comments on your off-the-shelf Google-hosted blog, complete with its atrocious code. I have the right not to enable them on my hosted blog with perfect code. It’s all about accessibility and personal choice.

Again: A workplace that favours neuroatypical males and females can function in the short term. Google is still a young company; QED. But in order for a company with a preponderance of male brains, typical or atypical, to succeed, it must pay attention to neurological and behavioural differences. I refer you again to the existing published data on the subject, which you are unable to counter.

An Aspergerian insistence that design doesn’t exist, doesn’t matter, or only exists and matters if it is quantifiable, or only exists and matters if it is quantifiable and verifies Aspergerian claims, is a recipe for disaster. It just hasn’t happened yet. Give it time, though.

There is such a thing as a bona fide occupational qualification (bfoq; look it up). Blind people can’t drive a bus, but a workforce of male brains can easily drive a company into the ditch in the long term.

Laura said...


whatever you say, Joey. Nice non-comeback. You're a hypocrite exposed - a fascist decrying fascism.