Planet Google: One Company's Audacious Plan to Organize Everything We Know
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Planet Google: One Company's Audacious Plan to Organize Everything We Know

3.5 4
by Randall Stross
     
 

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"In this spellbinding behind-the-scenes look,
Stross leads readers through Google’s evolution…the unfolding narrative reads like a suspense novel" (Publishers Weekly, starred review).

Based on unprecedented access to the "Googleplex," Planet Google goes deep inside the company to unveil the extraordinary scope

Overview


"In this spellbinding behind-the-scenes look,
Stross leads readers through Google’s evolution…the unfolding narrative reads like a suspense novel" (Publishers Weekly, starred review).

Based on unprecedented access to the "Googleplex," Planet Google goes deep inside the company to unveil the extraordinary scope and scale of its ambition to become the master gate-keeper of "all the world’s information," including its users’ most personal information. New York Times columnist Randall Stross provides a lively tour through Google’s flurry of new information gathering initiatives. Will Google stay true to its famous "Don’t Be Evil" mantra? Will it protect all of the personal information it collects? Planet Google is a much-needed wake-up call about how powerful the Google juggernaut has become.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A computer enthusiast who wants to Google Google couldn't find a more dedicated guide than Stross....Stross's access to the company pays off nicely for both Google's fans and people who read books on paper." — Time

"[An] even-handed and highly readable history of the company." — Wall Street Journal

"Stross tells the epic info-opera of Google simply and swiftly. He provides elegant microhistories of familiar subjects...and sprinkles just about every page with unexpected tech facts." — New York magazine

"In this spellbinding behind-the-scenes look at Google, Stross provides an intimate portrait of the company's ambitious aim to 'organize the world's information.'...The narrative reads like a suspense novel." — Publishers Weekly

"A vigorous history/analysis/appraisal of the 21st century's most notable company." — Fortune

Publishers Weekly
Starred Review.

In this spellbinding behind-the-scenes look at Google, New York Times columnist Stross (The Microsoft Way) provides an intimate portrait of the company's massively ambitious aim to "organize the world's information." Drawing on extensive interviews with top management and the author's astonishingly open access to the famed Googleplex, Stross leads readers through Google's evolution from its humble beginnings as the decidedly nonbusiness-oriented brainchild of Stanford Ph.D. students Sergey Brin and Larry Page, through the company's early growing pains and multiple acquisitions, on to its current position as global digital behemoth. Tech lovers will devour the pages of discussion about the Algorithm; business folk will enjoy the accounts of how company after company, including Microsoft and Yahoo, underestimated Google's technology, advertising model and ability to solve problems like scanning library collections; and general readers will find the sheer scale and scope of Google's progress in just a decade astounding. The unfolding narrative of Google's journey reads like a suspense novel. Brin, Page and CEO Eric Schmidt battle competitors and struggle to emerge victorious in their quest to index all the information in the world.

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Library Journal

Stross ("Digital Domain" columnist, New York Times; The Wizard of Menlo Park: How Thomas Alva Edison Invented the Modern World) here gives us an outstanding business history of Google from its humble beginnings through the dot-com era to current times. Although the term Google often elicits good vibes from individuals of all ages, genders, and lifestyles worldwide, Stross shows how Google's current goals are not entirely altruistic. In fact, Google is a formidable business enterprise that uses its vast advertising revenues to achieve market share and to attain advantage over competitors, such as Facebook, Yahoo!, and Microsoft. Google's underlying strength lies in the proprietary software algorithm behind its search engine that becomes smarter when users click to web page results. Google is venturing in many new directions to accomplish the founders' goal of organizing the planet's information, but its initiatives are usually hit or miss, and its current emphasis is on automated processes that are easily "scalable" rather than investments that rely on human capital. Stross explains all of this in a balanced portrait, including criticisms concerning copyright, privacy, and other ethical issues. Therefore, his book is recommended for all business collections, both public and academic.
—Caroline Geck

Kirkus Reviews
Yes, the Googleplex is trying to take over the world, but in the end this vaunted company is just as fallible as the others. In his just-the-facts account, New York Times columnist Stross (Business/San Jose State Univ.; The Wizard of Menlo Park: How Thomas Alva Edison Invented the Modern World, 2007, etc.) assumes a judicious tone, avoiding the common extremes of either enthusing with childlike mania about the wonders of Google and its products, or expressing wild-eyed fear of its octopus-like reach in information gathering. This considered approach, combined with the author's relatively dry writing style, doesn't make for thrilling reading. The lack of any evident overarching thesis may also bother some readers, though perhaps not those whose knowledge of the organization doesn't extend much beyond the Web page they access daily. Stross paints a credible portrait of a company that, at least for a time, seemed poised to be the left-field candidate to supplant Microsoft as the most important technology purveyor in the world. The author comes at his subject elliptically, in chapters gathered thematically instead of chronologically, to discuss Google's brilliantly simple approach to its mammoth needs for storage capacity (lots of cheap servers networked together by themselves instead of the more expensive industry standard servers) or the paradigm-changing nature of its search software (known within the company simply as "The Algorithm"). Stross earns points by not fawning over the cuter aspects of Google culture that usually entrance journalists. Also, instead of attacking it for attempting world domination, he picks apart such missteps as the problem-plagued book-scanning program and earlymistakes with Gmail. In the end, the author suggests, the vaunted wizards of information could turn out to just be the next Microsoft. Occasionally pedestrian but always interesting take on the organization that simply wants to organize the world's information . . . all of it.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781416546962
Publisher:
Free Press
Publication date:
09/22/2009
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
288
Product dimensions:
5.44(w) x 8.48(h) x 0.71(d)

Meet the Author


Randall Stross
is the author of the New York Times column "Digital Domain" and of several books, including The Microsoft Way and eBoys. He lives in Menlo Park, California.

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Planet Google: One Company's Audacious Plan to Organize Everything We Know 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It suks
Nick252 More than 1 year ago
Planet Google was a very interesting book about the rise of Google as a search engine and as a company. Randall Stross did a great job writing this book. Even though at some points it was hard to understand I would definitely recommend it. The book contains all about how Google tries to organize everything we know. At some points the tone is very serious and business like but at other points it’s joking and laid back. I would say that the message of this book is that Google can be looked in a bad way but it is not a bad company and they don’t read your emails and look through your calendar. In other words Google is a good company that people misunderstand. The book had a definite impact on me. I found it captivating at some points and also very boring at other parts. The impact it had on me was that just because something stands in your way like Microsoft in this book or you don’t know how to do something like digitalize all the books in the world, you shouldn’t give up. If Google can do it so can I!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Planet Google is an extremely-well written history of the internet giant Google. Randall Stross, the author, thoroughly used the 200 sources his credited in the back on his book and his personal contact inside Google to give the account of the company. And clearly gets out the message: Google wants to organize the entire world's information. Stross writes in a journalistic style which manages to keep the reader's attention. His transitions from paragraph to paragraph keep the reader's interest in the story at a maximum level. While he is long-versed for one who is not as familiar with computer and business, he helps to put the story in terms which the reader can relate to. The tone of the story clearly shows that Stross is very-versed in the world of computers and excellent source for this information. He gives his opinions on the well-known subject while also injecting the opinions of Google employees and employees of other companies. He is also knowledgeable in knowing what exactly was going on at each time period on the Google timeline. Planet Google is an excellent history for anyone wishing to know almost everything about Google without even logging on to the site.