I thought that “The End of The World as We Know It” had already taken place earlier this year. And I was right of course, but for the wrong reason.
“Googled” by Ken Auletta, does describe the end of the world as we know it. But it’s not a financial meltdown, it’s a media meltdown.
From Publisher’s Weekly:
Two Googles emerge in this savvy profile of the Internet search octopus. The first is the actual company, with its mixture of business acumen and naïve idealism … its brilliant engineering feats and grad-students-at-play company culture; its geek founders, Sergey Brin and Larry Page … The second Google is a monstrous metaphor for all the creative destruction that the Internet has wrought on the crumbling titans of old media, who find themselves desperately wondering how they will make money off of news, music, video and books now that people can Google up all these things without paying a dime …
It’s been a while since I read a great ‘behind-the-scenes’ look at the birth of a technology company. But this is not just any tech company. Google has in many ways changed our reality. And no, I don’t think I’m exaggerating.
Consider for a second what Google has put at our fingertips, under the seemingly simple term: Search. You can ask virtually any question on virtually any topic and have an answer in a few seconds. You can enter an address in most parts of the US and many parts of Europe and within seconds have a satellite map of the street, and then a view from a car driving down that street. You can, or soon will be able, to search virtually every book that’s ever been written. You can type a page in one language and have it instantly translated into another language.
‘Search’ really is organizing all the world’s information and making it available.
We take it for granted, but the implications of Search are staggering when you think about it. Some have derided Google because ‘all they can do is search’. That misses the point entirely.
Before Google search platforms were not automated. They could never have kept up with the growth in the web. Before Google search results were bought and paid for by advertisers. Google did away with that and made the results as ‘unbiased’ as possible.
[Before I read the book I thought that Google Page Rank was named after an algorithm that ranked a website on how often the pages were referenced. That was partly true, but in fact the ‘Page’ in the term was just taken from Larry Page’s name, since he came up with the algorithm.]
“Googled” gives you the real back-story on Search and Google’s mind-set. Until recently the company pretty much flew under the radar. But that’s changing, and Google are now under tremendous scrutiny around the world by governments and a variety of business interests. This book will help you understand the thinking both at Google and their adversaries on any number of important issues. And these issues effect all of us.
But in fact “Googled” is even more about a change in the media landscape that is unfolding, and will continue to unfold for many years to come. It’s how we get our news, our entertainment, and communicate with other people. Business and cultural models that have been around for a hundred years are collapsing. That’s what’s perhaps the most interesting aspect of the book for me.
In a way the world is choosing up sides, and Googled helps explain the coin toss.
So did you want to Kick or Receive?