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The Search: How Google and Its Rivals Rewrote the Rules of Business and Transformed Our Culture Paperback – Bargain Price, October 3, 2006
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This ambitious book comes with a strong pedigree. Author John Battelle was a founder of The Industry Standard and then one of the original editors of Wired, two magazines which helped shape our early perceptions of the wild world of the Internet. Battelle clearly drew from his experience and contacts in writing The Search. In addition to the sure-handed historical perspective and easy familiarity with such dot-com stalwarts as AltaVista, Lycos, and Excite, he speckles his narrative with conversational asides from a cast of fascinating characters, such Google's founders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin; Yahoo's, Jerry Yang and David Filo; key executives at Microsoft and different VC firms on the famed Sandhill road; and numerous other insiders, particularly at the company which currently sits atop the search world, Google.
The Search is not exactly the corporate history of Google. At the book's outset, Battelle specifically indicates his desire to understand what he calls the cultural anthropology of search, and to analyze search engines' current role as the "database of our intentions"--the repository of humanity's curiosity, exploration, and expressed desires. Interesting though that beginning is, though, Battelle's story really picks up speed when he starts dishing inside scoop on the darling business story of the decade, Google. To Battelle's credit, though, he doesn't stop just with historical retrospective: the final part of his book focuses on the potential future directions of Google and its products' development. In what Battelle himself acknowledges might just be a "digital fantasy train", he describes the possibility that Google will become the centralizing platform for our entire lives and quotes one early employee on the weightiness of Google's potential impact: "Sometimes I feel like I am on a bridge, twenty thousand feet up in the air. If I look down I'm afraid I'll fall. I don't feel like I can think about all the implications."
Some will shrug at such words; after all, similar hype has accompanied other technologies and other companies before. Many others, though, will search Battelle's story for meaning--and fast. --Peter Han --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
At the core of the book though is the concept of what a search engine can do. Obviously there are as many possibilities to develop and implement search algorithms as there are creative people to invent them (Microsoft MSN, Yahoo and others have products that compete directly with, and in many cases outperform the more well known brand the book focuses on), but essentially they have the power to pull together unbelievable amounts of formerly disconnected data, and create a targeted marketing aimed at you personally.
The potential danger of all of this technology is that depending on how you set the algorithm, you no longer simply search reality, but actually create it. For example, a change in how the search engine works can drive business to some on line retailers while destroying the business of others. It can conceivably literally create trends, and promote views, all through the seemingly blind eye of the program. The problem is that these programs are anything but blind, and we are on the verge of tremendous legal battles due to the creativity of those trying to use the system to deflect traffic from the owner of a trademark, to their own competing brand, with full compliance by the folks at Google.Read more ›
Thus far, I have two major gripes with the book. The first is the writing itself. The book is written in informal magazine style, in keeping with his roots as a "cutting edge" technology writer (having worked for Wired and Business 2.0, magazines that try desperately to be "too cool for the room").
This would be fine enough, except that Battelle has a habit of jumping around from year to year, talking about decisions made by players in Google's history before he actually introduces them. He never fully explains why it was important for Sergey Brin and Larry Page - Google's founders - to resign their chairman and CEO posts, nor does he tell the reader what their new titles are. Battelle also has a habit of reintroducing people several times, a practice which at times seems a cheap way to up his page count. His writing style thoroughly muddles however much thoughtfulness there was to his project. I considered keeping a tally of how many times he used "well" as an interjection, but lost interested after I ran out of fingers.
On page 150 he discusses a lack of managerial prowess on the part of Brin, Page and new CEO Eric Schmidt. According to Battelle, one of Google's investors, John Doerr, insisted that Intuit founder Bill Campbell come on as a leadership coach.Read more ›
After doing a fairly comprehensive assessment of the evolution and current state of the industry as of the publishing of the book, almost the entire last two chapters of "The Search" are devoted to the exploration of the possible avenues Google specifically and the search domain at large will likely be taking. This part of the book is bound to be fascinating to SEO/Internet Marketing professionals as well as to the average web user.
If you want to learn more about Google, I suggest you pick up "The Google Story", published shortly after this book. The truth is it will only save you from reading just a couple of chapters on the mega-successful search company in this book. Otherwise, there is not that much overlap between the two books. If you haven't read either one, I'd say start here, and if you feel like it, move on to "The Google Story". That for sure will wet your appetite for knowledge on the Search Engine topic.
Last but not least, the last chapter, 'The Perfect Search' was just fascinating. It relates so well, because it is essentially summarizes all the frustrations I ever had when searching, and describes how the perfect search is already becoming a reality in many ways, slowly but surely.
All in all, a great read that changes the way you look at search.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The book covers how search engines work and the story of Google's creation. It was educational but a bit slow and a bit tedious to read. Overall I still liked it though.Published 4 months ago by Soreasan
What a stylistically sexy book Very rich and clever. VERY rich. I love how he glamourizes the world of search first and digs deeply into how search drives commerce... Read morePublished 7 months ago by Guy Guillermo
One of the best Nonfictions I have ever read. Very insightful and surprising.Published 7 months ago by Nate Sethman
Transaction completed fast and without any complaint on the item.Published 16 months ago by Marn Seng Cheong