Happy birthday to me! I’m joining Google

Yes friends, I’m turning 29 and I’ve decided to go work for The Man.

;)

In all actuality, I’ve been mulling over such a move for some time, considering a number of compelling opportunities for my next step. After reviewing my options — in light of the progress I’ve made so far and my familiarity and existing relationships with the new team at Google that I’ll be working with — I came to the conclusion that Google offers me the best possible opportunity to continue my work in an environment and culture that is compatible with my outlook, goals, and work habits.

I was trained as a designer, but I’ve been involved with the tech scene since I arrived in Silicon Valley just over five years ago. In some ways, technology has reshaped the way I approach and solve problems — forcing me to think in terms of adoption strategies first, rather than always trying to find the simplest, cleanest design, because of the disadvantaged position I occupied as a non-coder. I can see the consequences of these effects on my approaches first to OAuth, and then to Activity Streams, as well as with OpenID, with positive and negative results. In some ways I’ve had to temper my designer training and put technology first in order to grow an audience. But now I’m ready for new challenges that will expand my ideas and tactics, force me to attack problems from new perspectives, and dip into my design thinking repertoire to operate at a whole new level.

Though I consistently aim high, I want more success in turning my ideas into tangible outcomes, and in doing so, prove the power that I see in open, interoperable standards that can make the web a richer and more intricately spun space.

In some ways, I’m still just getting started with my work.  In joining Google, I see the chance to have a greater impact than I might otherwise on my own. That said, I won’t lose track of what intrinsically motivates me — that I’ve always been about spreading the benefits of the web by creating technology that  fosters innovation and choice. And there’s where I see alignment with what I’ve been doing, and what Google needs to succeed. In fact, my new title at Google? The same one I independently gave myself a year ago: “Open Web Advocate”.

In this role, I’ll still be an active community board member of the OpenID and Open Web Foundations; I hope to help push the Activity Streams project forward with a 1.0 release of the spec soon. And I’m still hopeful about the future of my semi-neglected and half dormant Diso Project! I’ll also soon be publishing the results of my collaboration with Mozilla Labs, which will provide some insight into what social networking in the browser might look like, and how OpenID Connect might play a role in it.

For good measure, I should also point out that my good friend and colleague Joseph Smarr also made a similar decision recently  — unbeknownst to me at the time! —  and announced that he’ll be joining Google later this month as well.

So, net-net, I’m stoked to be joining The Man Google, and very thankful to have had as much support from the many, many people with whom I’ve connected through the synapses of the social web over these past several years. This is of course a very happy birthday present for me, and I’m eagerly anticipating what’s next for the open social web in 2010…! This can all still be made better. Ready? Begin.

Feel free to leave a comment here, or get in touch via email.

Author: Chris Messina

Ever-curious product designer and technologist. Hashtag inventor. Previously: Molly.com (YC W18), Uber, Google.

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