Googled – The End of the World As We Know It

This book is not just about Google. It is also a reminder about services and advancements that led to help create what Google is, and does, today. And, how Google has affected and inspired others: competitors, and partners.
After reading the preface, and before the first chapter, I wondered: why doesn’t Google buy AOL? The more you go through the book, the more you find that (initiallly) Google never saw themselves as a content provider: more of a conduit to content. (However, as I progress through the book it is revealed how that is not currently true…)
In the beginning of the first chapter Auletta describes the facilities and services at Google. I begin to remember…and greatly miss…the “good ole days” when I worked for Microsoft (under a subcontract with Keane) in their support division that was located in Tucson. Before Google did, Microsoft/Keane had taken into consideration what needed to be done for staff so they can do for customers: a no/low stress environment and atmosphere that allowed for creativity and productivity…the same type of environment that appears to exist at Google. (If only others would learn from these examples…)
“Don’t be evil” is often confused with the Google Mission Statement. “Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful…” The mission statement is a part of the Google Code of Conduct (and an interesting read). Paul Buchheit was the creator and lead developer of Gmail…and suggested the motto, “Don’t be evil”.
For as much information as they gather, and as much as others are concerned about them…based on what I’ve read in the book…I’m impressed with the amount of transparency Google provides compared to other corporations and businesses.
As I continue to read the first chapter I noticed that a lot positive things done at Google, and that Google has done, are noted. It caused me to refer back to the title of the book…”Googled – The End of the World As We Know It”…because initially, from the title, I perceived a negative flavor (as in, I would learn of the evil some state that Google does). I found I needed to clear my head of my expected prejudice, and try to keep an open mind as I continue…
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While reading chapter three I am reminded that things done with passion seem to be much more successful and enduring. I relate what the founders of Google have done to the career I chose, radio broadcasting: throughout the book there are descriptions of incidents that the business world, as we have come to know them, were focused on…but those at Google were not. And, more often than not, those at Google had the better idea(s)…
In the early day of the search engine, due to the way some results were calculated for searches, adult and pornography websites appeared at the top of some queries. How they resolved that issue is explained in the book. I found it to be funny that those particular types of websites had appeared prominently. As with other things in life, if you know how to get the results and outcomes you desire, it’s possible to do so: you can “play/game the system”.
After reading about the first chef hired at Google, I searched Google for “google chef”. I’ll let you do so and enjoy what the first result is (hopefully it will be what I saw…it’s a “cute” and fun result).
The descriptions of the personalities of those who work for, and at, Google are consistent: people who are bright, can be somewhat eccentric, and not polished in some socially accepted graces and behaviors. Which should sound very familiar by now because of all of the profiles that have been done of people in technology related fields. For lack of better terminology: nerds.
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For four years, Google was the search engine for Yahoo! I had forgotten about that. And I don’t think there’s any reason I should have remembered because it was a service behind the (AOL) service. (February 10, 2004…at 9:30 PM PST, on a Tuesday…Yahoo! dropped Google.)
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As I am reading chapter five, I realize I have been reading this book for a few days (three). Other books I have finished in hours; this one has a lot of information I want to try to absorb and understand. I don’t want to miss anything. (I have more to say about this below…)
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In chapter six, “Google Goes Public”, you’ll find the most unusual situation of a company for offering stock ever known. Even if you know nothing about the subject, you’ll find their approach could send those who have standard expectations for investing in a business to seek psychological services: I perceived A Letter from the Founders as a declaration of war on greedy-ass investors, and hope there are more letters of its kind in the future from other enterprises.
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This book will also introduce you to people that are not with Google the company, but relate to it. And some can be considered responsible for it. For example:
As I began chapter eight, “Chasing the Fox”, Auletta mentions that Rupert Murdoch had purchased MySpace…which caused me to wonder if Murdoch’s stigma has anything to do with Facebook appearing to overtake MySpace. But that’s another subject for another time…
The co-founder of Facebook…Mark Zuckerberg…and I are in agreement: in an interview, he explained that MySpace is “a platform to pump and push media out to people”. It’s something I perceived, have on many occasions stated to others. (In my early uses of Facebook, I found it to be more of a closed and corralable service/environment.)
And that led me to remember Orkut…which, for now, exists. And just seems to. But I do wonder what could happen if Google decides to become “serious” about it and really go after MySpace and Facebook. As I was writing this, I decided to take a look at Orkut (which I haven’t done for months). It’s “OK”…has a new layout and look…but, again, it’s not as inviting as Facebook and MySpace can be.
“Big companies don’t innovate. They operate…” That quote is attribued to Jason Hirschhorn, formerly the Chief Digital Officer at MTV Networks, and now the Chief Product Officer of MySpace. If you’ve ever worked for a “big company” you know it can be true: sometimes it takes too long to go through all of the procedures to get something done…while other organizations have conquered and moved on because they don’t have many hindrances to action.
There’s some information in the book about the personage of Marc Andreessen, the cofounder and vice president of technology for Mosaic/Netscape Communications (the company that developed the Netscape Navigator web browser). He seems to be a voracious consumer of content from many, many channels and services…more than I ever imagined to attempt to use. He has multiple subscriptions to television service providers.
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This book can inspire “thinking outside of the box”! Add it to your personal collection…give it as a gift. As some look to the bible for inspiration, I propose so should some use this.
Encourage for it to be read more than once. (I encourage you to.) To get as much as you can out of this book, it will need to be: throughout the book I found things and events were mentioned, and then later mentioned again and expanded upon to enhance a point that is being explained or examined. Don’t try to rush through this book. Take your time…at least a week…to comfortably consume its contents.
Enjoy. I expect you will. I did.
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A video of Ken Auletta on “Q&A” (from November 1), of Book TV, that was on the C-SPAN channel, can be found at http://www.c-spanvideo.org/program/id/214624

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