Chi had been at PARC, the research institute where everything computer from the GUI to the laser printer was invented, since 1999. His recent work has included investigations of how users relate to Wikipedia, Delicious and Twitter. Recent projects include building recommendation engines based on bookmarks (MrTaggy), tweets (zerozero88) and other social signals. Now he's hacking for Google.
Chi proved wildly capable by earning a B.S., an M.S. and a PhD all in 6.5 years. He holds 20 different patents.
We've cited Chi here at ReadWriteWeb for his criticism of Wikipedia as a site that has become too exclusive because of its complicated interface and we wrote an extensive preview of the unlaunched Twitter-filtering Eddi Project. We were unaware of his departure for Google until ReadWriteWeb reader Clive Boulton generously brought it to my attention in a live video chat.
Chi is widely liked, admired and respected. Bringing him in-house sounds like a very smart move for Google to make. Even if Google never nails social like Facebook or Twitter has, the web is quite likely to move into a post-Pagerank era sometime soon due to gaming, spam, pseudo spam and the rise of social. A deep understanding of social signals concerning information could prove a path to maintain the company's search dominance into that new world.