Monday, February 22, 2010

" Planet Google" by Randall Stross

I've had the book out from the library for a while and finally got around to reading "Planet Google" by San Jose State Professor and New York Times Digital Domain columnist Randall Stross.

I was initially interested in the title after reading "What Would Google Do?" By Jeff Jarvis (which I reviewed here) and while I liked the Jarvis book more, Stross did provide good insight into one of the more interesting companies out there.

Below are the chapters of the book along with some of the topics covered in each:

Introduction - Google's stated goal of "organizing the world's information."

Chapter 1 - Open and Closed... about how Google in some areas really is "open" and not so much in others. Interesting comparison to rival Facebook on the "Open vs. Closed" question.

Chapter 2 - Unlimited Capacity... lots of data centers out there.

Chapter 3 - The Algorithm... concept of the "brains" behind Google and PageRank being done by computers.

Chapter 4 - Moon Shot... a look at Google Book Search... seems to fit very well as a venture within the overall goal of the company.

Chapter 5 - GooTube... about Google's efforts around video and subsequent purchase of YouTube. Relates to two larger questions addressed in the book of how "open" Google is and how tightly aligned with corporate objectives are all it's efforts... with YouTube perhaps being more outside the bounds than something like Google Book Search.

Chapter 6 - Small World, After All... Google Maps, Google Earth, mashups. Cool areas that certainly seem in line with the organization of information.

Chapter 7 - A Personal Matter... about privacy and ads in Gmail being targeted as a result of text from user emails.

Chapter 8 - Algorithm, Meet Humanity... looks at the initial concept of computers making search results based on PageRank, and whether there's a different or better way.

Conclusion - contains mention of how Larry Page, Sergey Brin and Eric Schmidt control 40% of the stock voting power. That plus the fact the ad dollars have been there has enabled the founders and CEO take the company where they want it to go and avoid the problem of short term growth needs hindering long term initiatives.

Overall... pretty good book if you're curious about Google.