Steven Levy: In the Plex

Not long ago I was struck by just how unprecedentedly dependent I am on Google technologies: they power my phone and my e-book reader; they support the bulk of my browsing and email. My wife and I used Google docs and maps extensively in buying our home and planning our wedding. I use Google’s calendar and RSS reader daily. And I hear they also have some site that you lets you find stuff on the web.

This seemed like a good reason to learn more, so I decided to read a few of the many books about Google.

I started with Steven Levy’s. It isn’t a corporate puff piece, but with direct participation from key players like founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, and longtime CEO Eric Schmidt, it’s the closest thing to an “official” Google book. It’s not entirely uncritical of Google, but it’s tone is generally favorable. It’s divided into eight parts, covering Google’s history, Google’s Internet ad innovations, Google’s culture (including the initial Gmail privacy flap), Google’s physical infrastructure, Android and YouTube, Google’s ethical and privacy dilemmas in dealing with China, Google’s (and more significantly, ex-Googler’s) relationship to domestic politics in general and the Obama campaign/presidency in particular), and Google’s efforts in social media spaces.

It generally seems well-sourced and -supported, with copious footnotes. Levy occasionally speculates on things that are not public knowledge, but in general his guesses seem pretty rational.

Overall I found it credible, readable, and informative, and often engaging and entertaining.

needs more demons? no.

Published by therealsummervillain

likes: equality, making things easier to use, biking, jangle, distortion, monogamy dislikes: bigotry, policies that jeopardize people, lack of transparency

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