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In 1998, when he met the soon-to-be Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin at
“It took awhile to realize their vision wasn’t about making Web search a little better, but about making all the world’s information available,” Drummond recalls.
“I like to believe lawyers think analytically, that it gives us something in common with computer scientists. But for me, it’s also being immersed in
Drummond’s comfort with ideas that challenge the norm was part of his persona when he was at
“The Black Students Union became Igwebuike in my dorm room. I was a bit of a student activist, as Fr. Locatelli will tell you. I recall some sit-ins outside his door when he was vice president.”
Drummond says he learned a great deal from the opportunity to debate controversial or conflicting ideas on the
“There was plenty of creative confrontation. It required pressure on our part, but the university ultimately embraced it, and it was good for the
students, for the university, and for the community.”
Good things, Drummond recalls learning from the experience, sometimes come with struggle. “You figure out how to navigate in a setting where you’re maybe not fully understood or appreciated for what you are. What you learn is that you can still be part of the family while being comfortable in your own skin, with your own experience.”
Today, at Google, Drummond still experiences the creative confrontations around new ideas that don’t fit comfortably into existing paradigms. The vast amount of what Google creates, he says, attracts no controversy. Users embrace Google’s features because they see the value of what Google is proposing. Who these days argues with the brilliance of intuitive search by phrases, sort techniques that save time by bringing the searcher the content that most closely fits the query, and constant computer-evaluated vetting of page sources? Other ideas being developed at Google, however, are currently getting a tougher reception. “Not everyone understands any new concept at first. Google is willing to step out and push for what most people want, and to engage others in open debate.”
Drummond, a history major at SCU, observes that “people believe the power of information is important for humankind. Google’s overall mission is to organize the world’s information and make it accessible and usable—and we mean all of it. What you see at Google is the application of computer science talent and creativity to the problems of information retrieval. Rational thinking combined with data and the actual willingness to do something about it.”
What technological paradigm shifts does Drummond see in the future?
“Ten years from now, the online world will be very different. Today, most of the world is not connected to the Internet. If you believe that access to information online is a plus, that it improves standards of living and productivity, just imagine what will happen when more people have access to all the information in the world online.
“Google certainly creates value for its shareholders, but we try to do so through innovation. We’re focused on participating in the next breakthrough. I guess what I’m saying is, the first part of innovative thinking is to realize what’s possible. The next part is to realize the innovations themselves.”