Life and Times of Google

I’ve been digging into the history of the dot-com boom recently and a colleague recommended this book to me. It sounded really interesting, so it wasn’t long before I’d got myself a copy …

The Search

An informative read, but sometimes too awestruck by Google

John Battelle has subtitled this book “How Google and Its Rivals Rewrote the Rules of Business and Transformed Our Culture”, and if you accept that premise then you’ll probably enjoy reading it. Or maybe that’s a little harsh.

Battelle does a great job of digging into the history of the search engine battles in the mid-1990s, and how advertising took off online and then within search results. I already knew much of the historical material, but it may be an eye-opener for those who weren’t around or paying attention at the time.

He also provides a detailed account of the origins and evolution of Google, warts and all. Since it is quite the media darling at the moment, this was fascinating, particularly the comparisons with Yahoo!’s internal culture.

Towards the end, I was getting a bit irritated by the continual praising of Google’s innovations and claims that everything comes down to searching. However, if you take that with a pinch of salt, then it’s still a well-researched, well-written historical analysis of the web search industry.

My rating: 3.5 stars
***1/2

This review was written using a little hReview plugin that I wrote for WordPress. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, you can check out this page on the hReview microformat.

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