Saturday, December 12, 2009

"Googled" -- A Good Read on an Icy Day

Now that Fall term is officially completed at LBCC, I'm doing some "research" over the break, beginning with reading Ken Auletta's new book, "Googled: The End of the World as We Know It." (I already have my students read Jeff Jarvis' book, "What Would Google Do?" for Media & Society.)

Twenty-four pages into "Googled" and I can see I might blast through it in a few days (especially if the ice outside continues to hold the family hostage...). As other reviewers have noted, it's a fast read that covers a lot of ground that's already appeared in a lot of stories about the fabled company.

While many readers already know the story behind the company's beginnings and its geeky founders, the strength of the book so far is Auletta's insider access to Google as well as key media and advertising industry players. So he can observe: "Google engineers don't make gut decisions. They have no way to quantify relationships or judgment. They value efficiency more than experience. They require facts, beta testing, mathematical logic. Google fervently believes it is shaping a new and better media world..."

Auletta discusses some of the issues highlighted in his book and more up-to-date information (e.g. Chrome and the Google Phone) in Friday's online Q&A in the Washington Post. Asked about his access to Google execs, including the founders, while writing the book, he says: "(Larry) Page and (Sergey) Brin are not garrulous executives, like many corporate types. They are not consumed by their wealth, which now hovers around $15 billion each. But they each have a jet airplane, and new families, and at 36 are spending a bit more time smelling the roses."

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