Googled: The End of the World As We Know It

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* * * Interesting in Parts, But Reads Too Much Like A Corporate Dossier

(Snapshot Review by Kerri Elders)

Without a doubt, Ken Auletta’s Googled is thoroughly and expertly researched.

However, it took me numerous ambivalent weeks to read it (BTW, it is not at all unusual for me to read 3 books at once and be finished with them all in two days and I am most positively interested in technology). Unfortunately, this one didn’t “grab” me like I thought it would, given its topic: the most brazen, upstart Corporation in the History of the Universe. The Anti-Microsoft. What I call “The God Box,” otherwise known as Google.

Although I can say I learned a lot I didn’t know before (like the incredible level to which we have all been contributing personal data streams to cable, satellite, internet, and phone companies for YEARS; the commercial value of this information; the fact that My Favorite NerdHero, Amazon Founder Jeff Bezos, is one of the original angel investors in Google; AND that Amazon’s search technology is based on an offshoot of Google’s), it felt like those nuggets of wisdom were buried in a lot of unnecessary background noise.

I think if you personally knew some of the people covered in this book, you would find it more engaging than I did. For me, the first 2/5ths of the book read like a corporate dossier, reciting the degrees and digital pedigrees of individual employees and associated boardmembers, etc.

What I really wanted to read about was what the title promised: how Google transformed the world and how it would build it anew. I also hoped it would delve into how Google might be addressing the problem of Search Engine Optimizers who are gaming Google’s algorithm and degrading the quality of search results.

I HATE to criticize a talented writer who has obviously poured so much effort into a project, but this book just fell short on delivery of its promised “sizzle,” for my tastes.

However, if you are fascinated by all things technical, the final 3/5ths of the book offer some interesting insights into Google’s worldview and its current domination of the advertising marketplace (yes, it has morphed into an ADVERTISING and data collection behemoth). Worth reading, if you can slug your way through the corporate biographies!

[Review First published on WordPros blog 12/9/09]