Friday, November 06, 2009

Googled: The End of the World As We Know It

This book is all about Google from garage to cell phones, in chronological order, the good and the not-so good story. Perfect for a student bookworm dealing with websites, there are lessons to be learned by studying the trials, tribulations, and successes of this company. What I am into is creating successes for myself professionally. Whenever a book like this comes up in the Vine Program, I order it.

I haven't read this author's other books, but I have read studies like them. By reading books like these, and particularly books about big businesses like Google, Microsoft, or Apple, I get a bird's-eye-view of what makes failures and successes. This helps me very much in my current job dealing with customers, and management.

This book is particularly good because it starts at the beginning of Google's story, and ends now. And in this financial climate, the book takes an honest look at what could be around the bend.

I haven't read a book on Google before, so the first few chapters provided a useful history of the company and background of the founders. The author paints a picture of a somewhat arrogant persona in the engineers who believe in the art of the possible, who use a combination of their intellects and technology to pry open the covers of various industries and essentially rewire them completely. This impression is useful in conveying not only the unprecedented changes being fostered on the world by Google, but also leading in the major part of the book, assessing its impact on everybody else.

I'm a huge fan of open source, open standards, etc etc so I'll be the last one to sing the praises of Microsoft or Apple - but where we've bashed these companies to death with questions about their monopolistic ambitions, this book raises similar questions about Google. Yes, pretty much everything Google offers is free - at least for you - but 100% of the cost is being shouldered by advertisers. Is this fair? To what extent does the company have the right to kill traditional media, and is this really Google's fault at all? Is Google's approach an abuse of privacy and copyright laws or not?

The author delves into a range of different areas - some of which have been discussed in the media, and others are ambitious and thought provoking. I'd recommend this for anyone who has an interest in pop-tech or web 2.0 - while I don't necessarily agree with the authors conclusions, he raises some excellent questions.

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