In a blog post, Katelyn Gadd, game designer and tools programmer, shares her experience on Google’s WebAssembly team, a negative experience that highlights Google’s failings. “I joined Google in early 2015 to work on the V8 team as one of the original authors of the WebAssembly specification. This is a partial story of what went wrong in the process and how it permanently damaged me. My hope is that this story will help people recognize toxic cultures in their own workplace, or help new hires have better careers at Google,” Gadd says.
“Over the past two decades, I’ve managed to be productive despite chronic illness, and I owe that in large part to the people I’ve worked with. Despite this, Google is the worst place I’ve ever worked in and it literally caused me brain damage. If you find that your job is keeping you up at night, you’re on edge every day, or you’re constantly questioning your own worth, I encourage you to look for a new job,” says Gadd.
Since WebAssembly only specifies a low-level language, the bytecode is usually produced by compiling a higher-level language. Among the first languages supported are Rust with the project/module (crate) wasm-bindgen as well as C and C++, compiled with Emscripten (based on LLVM). Many other programming languages now have a WebAssembly compiler, including: C#, Go, Java, Lua, Python, or Ruby.
“Joining this specification process as an early contributor has been exciting,” says Gadd. Although I have experience working with web platforms, writing a specification poses unique challenges and the entire committee must act as project manager, advocate and programmer simultaneously. People like JF Bastien, Luke Wagner, Alon Zakai, Ben Titzer and countless others have worked hard to put together the framework for something that will be used by billions of people.
However, if you are building a product that will be used by billions of people, this can cause some stress. The history of the web is littered with bad APIs, thoughtless specs, and piles of security flaws. Something a programmer puts together in a week can consume decades of engineering time in the future.
“Our managers were overworked and lacked the power to create change. Any team needs expert leadership to thrive, and expert leaders need the support of their subordinates to do what is necessary. Our leaders didn’t have that support,” Gadd reveals
“The V8 team as a whole had the misfortune to report to the head of the Chrome organization, a negligent man who continues to have one of the worst approval ratings in the entire company. In my career, I’ve seen managers cry multiple times, and this is one of the places it’s happened. A manager should never have to wonder if he is a coward, but it happened here,” she continues.
What is your opinion on the subject?
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