Last night I met a friend at Google Zurich. It's the largest Google engineering centre outside of the USA. She gave me a guided tour of the building. Okay, it's not like your everyday building. First there's the food. The dining hall was busy. Scores of googlers tucking into their organic evening dinner at 7:00 p.m.. Googlers can have full breakfast, lunch and dinner on site. And here's the best bit - it is all free of charge. No need to leave work at all. A variety of cafes and relaxation spots, each with a different team, populate the building, and each serve delicious coffee, fresh fruit, cookies and brownies, and so on. Again, free of charge. You can have an entire social life within the building. The corridors are studded with a variety of cool features - like cable cars with couches and telephones, what looked to me like submarines with inviting bean bags. There's a fitness centre and a massage centre, a couple of snooker tables and a playroom with electric guitars. At every corner there's a cool box, with drinks, and ice cream - free of charge of course. If your bored, or you're lonely, or if the real world scares you, you could spend your life in the workplace, if the workplace is Google.
At the entrance to the building I saw the famous Google van. The van with a camera on the roof, that prowls the streets taking random photos and uploading them on the web. Photos of your workplace, photos of your street, photos of your home and of you. Google hopes to digitalise the entire heritage of humanity and then make it available to all, for free of course, just like the brownies and cool drinks that it give free of charge to its Googlers. Google wants to copy every book, copy every photo, photograph every building, every painting, every face, and make them available to all. Google wants to create a completely transparent world.
I asked my friend last night if I could take a photograph. No, she told me, "We are not allowed to take any photos in the building". That's why this blog post has no photo. Google doesn't allow itself to be photographed.
Article first published as Visiting Google - No Photos on Technorati.