Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Book review-The Google story

Book review

Title: The Google story
Author: David A Vice with Mark Malseed
Publisher: Pan Books, London 2005.

An awe inspiring success story, a hub of innovations, a legion of geeks and a mandatory search engine!! Google paints a colorful vibrant picture as a company, as an essential web tool, as a culture and as a phenomenon. In the age of never quenching thirst for better speed, better quality, Google not only keeps up its pace but also aspires to be a step ahead.
So what is this Google phenomenon? What sets aside Google from the rest? Who are the actors in the Google Odessey? How does Google make money? How is it to work for Google? David A Vice, a Pulitzer Prize winner, an eminent journalist and an MBA from Wharton, finds out and in this intriguing book, narrates the story of Google. Vice, who has authored the fiction thriller novel “The bureau and the mole”(2002) and has worked as a business journalist for Washington post has instilled in his book the elements of both these genres. The book, hence comes across as an easy to read business Biography with emphasis more on narration than on bare statistics and technical analysis, catering to a large number of readers with scant knowledge on the technical aspects of search engines and its algorithms.
The book starts off with the Google founders, Brin and Page, receiving a grand reception at a school, where they speak to the kids about how it feels to be a part of Google and its culture! The book then breaks away into a chronological narrative, along its way, presenting the personal history of various people involved in the journey and captures various highs and lows that the company faced,the role of Eric Schmidt and others, the Google economy and its presence and much more. The book also narrates the challenges that Google faces, including Microsoft and Google’s expansion in China and trademark infringement troubles. There are some thoroughly enjoyable light hearted chapters like “Burning Man” and “Charlie’s place” too!
So does the book do justice to its claim to give the inside story of the “Hottest Business, Media and Technological Success of Our time”? Not if you are looking for those technical jargons flying around or if you have insatiable appetite for in depth business analysis of Google’s unparalleled growth! But this book has in it a humane insight into how the Google culture evolved, who  were the perpetuators and how various events and people helped in the creation of an empire we now know as Google! Every chapter of the book is a story in itself dealing with a completely different aspect of the Google story, but, the Google culture, which is the underlying theme throughout the book, is well inscribed in each of the chapters and keeps the reader in sync with purpose of the book. The author succeeds in his narrative technique juxtaposing the story with anecdotes and opinions of various people, making the book not only an enlightening read but also a thoroughly enjoyable one. And for the thrills, there are extra features like candid photo gallery, a playboy interview of Brin and Page, Google search tips and GLAT(Google Labs Aptitude test).While the interview and photographs give an exciting insight into the candid face of Google, Google search tips are quite handy and with GLAT you may end up with a job in Googleplex(Google headquarters)! And lastly, the book inspires through its efficient narration and subtly drives the point “Don’t be evil”: the Google w(c )atchphrase! The book also illustrates the power of innovation and a “healthy disregard for the impossible” and has a lesson or two in it for all of us!! The lack of a concluding summary at the end of the book gives a feeling of an abrupt end. But with the Google story going strong and with many more chapters left, maybe the author is justified leaving the story where it stands and not conclude!
All in all the book delivers and the timeless aspect of its subject makes it a mandatory entry into your bookshelf!