The authors are journalists from The Washington Post and therefore is fairly straightforward and . . . journalistic. I enjoy the style.
The first half of the book was pretty entertaining -- it went through the background of Larry Page and Sergey Brin, once rival Stanford Ph.D. students, now multi-billionaires. It was interesting because I didn't know anything about the story, or how hot Stanford was (is) in computer science and how the scene benefited from being close to Silicon Valley as well as being close to some venture capitalists. Also interesting was that Stanford specifically fostered an atmosphere where star students were encouraged to work on commercial ventures with their professors, who would take a stake in their students' companies and become stinking rich. There was a point where a Stanford student said that it was hard to go to parties, because there would always be people around offering them a high-paying job to quit school and work for them.
And although Page and Brin came from a strong background of academia, they were "forced" to leave grad school to manage their system because only they could do it right. Boo hoo.
But now the book is slowing down in the second half. I just read an entire chapter on different people that use and love Google. But I just hit another fascinating part, actually, about when Gmail was unveiled.
Apparently, everyone went Chicken Little on the guys because they thought that having an entire gigabyte of storage for everyone would lend itself to government evil-doings (personal privacy for email messages only lasted 180 days). Congressmen introduced state legislature against Gmail, there were petitions, the whole deal. No one seemed to address the fact that this was a voluntary service -- and free at that. In fact, there were only 1,000 accounts available at first, just to test it out and make it generate some mystique.
If you don't want to allow yourself to be tracked (another big issue was scanning Gmail messages to display relevant ads), just don't use the service. Everyone else complaining that this sort of service would snowball and soon everyone would be at risk everywhere are morons. Gmail has only made others try harder on what is still lousy online email services.
There are a few things that are not explained. I would have preferred a more detailed, slightly more technical explanation of the Google search method. But it does say that the guys started out using a lot of cheap parts and building a string of cheap personal pcs, linked with custom-written software. And then they just started downloading every page of the internet so they could search through it quickly. Which is pretty ingenious.
Also, apparently all of this background information is online too.
Whoa, and so is your Google History.