My first impression was that this book would be a glossy overview of Google's rise to power. The first few chapters seemed to confirm my expectation of an author awash in slack-jawed admiration of the company and its founders.
What do I need that for? I was an early user of Google search, Gmail and Adsense (both as an advertiser and a publisher). I've followed Google closely and bought stock when it became available. I'm not one for hero worship and have questioned their "Do no evil" motto more than once. I don't need to read a paean to Google.
I was just about to toss the book aside, but fortunately held off long enough to see that "Googled" is far more than that. I've read many of Ken Auletta's New Yorker pieces, so I would have expected that if I were not in the habit of ignoring the author's name until I have finished the book. That habit keeps me from being influenced by previous exposure, but this time it almost caused me to ignore what is actually a very good book. After the initial gushing and admiration, Ken digs right into the warts and wrinkles of Google and the people who run it.
Don't get the idea that this is a paranoid attack on Google. It's not. But it does examine the things that do cause some people to see Google as too invasive of privacy and does recognize the reality of the massive amount of information Google already has about so many of us.
The effect of Google upon society and business isn't neglected. All of this is looked at deeply. What does Google mean to other companies? What does Google's growth mean to itself? Can it really "do no evil"? Ken Auletta does a great job of digging into all of this. I don't always agree with his opinions and conclusions (I think he is too influenced by the "old media" that he is part of), but I thoroughly enjoyed reading this.
Highly recommended. Due out in November; I suggest pre-ordering.
Tony Lawrence 2009-09-26 Rating:
Order (or just read more about) Googled: The End of the World As We Know It from Amazon.com
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