Thursday, February 4, 2010

Book: Planet Google by Randall Stross.

It's amazing what a passionate belief of being able to change something, no matter how massive and daunting the task may seem, can do to the world. As such is the great story well told by Randall Stross, how Sergey Brin and Larry Page, founders of a web revolution changed the way we search forever.

What is even more amazing is how much more possibilities were unfolding in my head while reading all 8 insightful chapters which tell behind-the-scenes of Planet Google. This is where the wall comes down, its strategies revealed to only those who are apt to catch.

'Don't be Evil' - the main mantra of Google sounds simple but in reality, so hard to achieve especially when money is involved. It must have inspired many which I am certainly one of them. So much learning can be drawn from Brin and Page's founding of the Google empire in a dorm room right up to the building of Googleplex in Mountain View, California. The dream was founded by two engineers who thought that the world's information can be organized better. When data forms a pattern, it becomes knowledge. The more pattern it forms, the better understanding of a subject can be formed over time over multiple (possibly infinite) perspectives. While Google was only in the business of Search but cross-matching information with other information, with other never-been-thought before format, you have video search, the digitization of the world's publications including ancient text, geospatial information, etc. The possibilities are endless.

How do they become so big? One, is because they were at the right place at the right time. So many start-ups in technoville in Silicon Valley flopped because the ingenious ideas did not manage to survive incubation and be born at the right time. And secondly, because they stood for one thing and one thing only - organisation and provision of information via mathematical equations that can not and will not be tempered by human biasness. And they seek to provide that solution to users over seeking profit. Their growth was organic and based on user-learning continuously even up till today. It wasn't profit and business based. The way they had to fight new wars everytime they introduce a new service seems quite endearing. They're full of innocence, not fully understanding and being restrained by 'copyright' issues put in placed by very adult businesses which protects intellectual properties because it's the lifeline to producers. It takes awhile for Google to come in terms with that and navigate around the problem to the best they know how, while fighting deep seated perceptions by cynics and giants and trying to convince everyone around them that 'dreams can come true, just allow me to show you how!'.

This book is well researched and provides a refreshing angle to Google. For those who thought they knew Google as being the David fighting Goliath, suddenly will realised what a mammoth Google has become through the years. And for those who think Google is playing God and do not fully understand why it does what it does, then this book will provide enlightenment. Google is an idealist brand, its innocence hinges on the hope that Utopia does exist and the very fact that it thinks it can achieve it (and actually strives to achieve it) draws much respect and endearment at the same time. Google, like any other product, brand, tool is a means to an end. What you as a user want, in the end, is entirely up to you.

You can borrow it here at Sparks' Open Library Project.

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