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The Search: How Google and Its Rivals Rewrote the Rules of Business and Transformed Our Culture Paperback – 14 Sep 2006

4.6 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Nicholas Brealey Publishing (14 Sept. 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1857883624
  • ISBN-13: 978-1857883626
  • Product Dimensions: 13.8 x 2.3 x 21.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 603,173 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Amazon Review

If you pick your books by their popularity--how many and which other people are reading them--then know this about The Search: it's probably on Bill Gates' reading list, and that of almost every venture capitalist and startup-hungry entrepreneur in Silicon Valley. In its sweeping survey of the history of Internet search technologies, its gossip about and analysis of Google, and its speculation on the larger cultural implications of a Web-connected world, it will likely receive attention from a variety of businesspeople, technology futurists, journalists, and interested observers of mid-2000s zeitgeist.

This ambitious book comes with a strong pedigree. Author John Battelle was a founder of The Industry Standard and then one of the original editors of Wired, two magazines which helped shape our early perceptions of the wild world of the Internet. Battelle clearly drew from his experience and contacts in writing The Search. In addition to the sure-handed historical perspective and easy familiarity with such dot-com stalwarts as AltaVista, Lycos, and Excite, he speckles his narrative with conversational asides from a cast of fascinating characters, such Google's founders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin; Yahoo's, Jerry Yang and David Filo; key executives at Microsoft and different VC firms on the famed Sandhill road; and numerous other insiders, particularly at the company which currently sits atop the search world, Google.

The Search is not exactly the corporate history of Google. At the book's outset, Battelle specifically indicates his desire to understand what he calls the cultural anthropology of search, and to analyze search engines' current role as the "database of our intentions"--the repository of humanity's curiosity, exploration, and expressed desires. Interesting though that beginning is, though, Battelle's story really picks up speed when he starts dishing inside scoop on the darling business story of the decade, Google. To Battelle's credit, though, he doesn't stop just with historical retrospective: the final part of his book focuses on the potential future directions of Google and its products' development. In what Battelle himself acknowledges might just be a "digital fantasy train", he describes the possibility that Google will become the centralizing platform for our entire lives and quotes one early employee on the weightiness of Google's potential impact: "Sometimes I feel like I am on a bridge, twenty thousand feet up in the air. If I look down I'm afraid I'll fall. I don't feel like I can think about all the implications."

Some will shrug at such words; after all, similar hype has accompanied other technologies and other companies before. Many others, though, will search Battelle's story for meaning--and fast. --Peter Han --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


"The Search is a fascinating story of the original and rapid rise of Google and the industry it leads..At once exhilarating and frightening." Sir Arthur C. Clarke, Times Higher Education Supplement "A highly readable account of Google's astonishing rise"The Economist "A compelling glimpse of the search industry's early years.....Full of colour from first-hand interviews, it helps answer the basic question: How did Google jump so far ahead in this seemingly obvious bonanza of a market?" Business Week "A brilliant business book. All searchers should read it." Walter Isaacson, CEO of the Aspen Institute; former editor of Time"

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Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I found this a really interesting book. It’s not a ‘history of Google’ story (look at ‘The Google Story’ by David Vise, if that’s what you’re after); although Google’s evolution features throughout. It’s a ‘history of search’ story, which provides insights into Yahoo, Alta Vista, Google and the other main players. It’s also an essay on what ‘search’ could be, how it could change everything and what we should expect in future.
The highlights for me were:
The realisation that the ‘database of intentions’ (Battelle’s term for the as yet unrecorded database of all our collective searches) would be an incredible archive of the developed world’s interests at any point in time.
How TV advertising could become a function of the programmes you watch.
How cool mobile search would be (scan a barcode into a PDA to see if another local retailer has he item you’re after for less).
The positives and negatives of everything recorded about us being searchable, and the implications for privacy (like ‘reverse directory lookup’ – type in a phone number and Google returns a name and address).
The prospect of all our stuff being searchable (eg our kids having indexed digital photo albums instead of cardboard ones gathering dust).
The reasons behind Google acquiring other little companies that can help it produce things like Google Earth and Google Print.
The reason other traditionally non-search internet players (such as Amazon with its A9 search engine) are taking an interest in search.
The amazing possibilities of ‘perfect search’….
So don’t be left behind – buy your copy now.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
When a brilliant journalist writes about a contemporary and lava hot topic like Search-simply consider that Google which epitomizes Search experienced the phenomenal growth of 0 to $3 billion in the short time span of five years 2000-2004 -the result is a riveting book.

There are similarities and parallels between the founders of Google and the founder of Microsoft. In both instances they are dropouts of elite universities in order to found companies and pursue their vision. In the case of Bill Gates the founder of Microsoft, the epiphany was the power of software. In the case of Larry Page and Sergey Brin the founders of Google, the driving insight was the power of Search.

The object of Search is to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful.

The author's treatment is balanced in that while he shows that the present Search is already enormous and its future virtually unlimited he also points to its ominous consequences such as the infringement on privacy.

To show what the future for Search reserves, a comparison with Micrososft would suffice:

The audacious goal of Bill Gates and Micropsoft was of a computer on every desk, and Microsoft products running on every computer. A goal achieved within twenty years and in the process rendering Bill Gates fabulously rich and Microsoft a stellar world company.

Let us consider Google's audacious goal:to organize information and make it accessible. Forget about a computer on every desk. The entire world needs to become computerized. Anything of value will be in Google's index. We have to visualize the merging of the physical world with the World Wide Web.

Microsoft's success was driving a computer to every desk with Windows on every computer.
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Format: Hardcover
John Battelle has a long history in the web's short evolution. He is currently deeply involved in the Web 2.0 technologies and strategies and therefore has a great understanding of the past,present and the future of the web. This book very much reflects that fact by covering the past, present and future of search. Google may rule the roost today but let us not forget in the past so did Alta Vista.
The delicious irony is that today Google has delivered on Microsoft's stated vision of "information at your fingertips" first but this is only the first round of a very long battle in the war to win consumers.
If you want to understand what comes next ... I recommend you read this book.
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Format: Paperback
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. It was well written and provided enough information to keep me glued to it. However, I was really hoping to find out more about Google than what would be possible from Google's own PR machine. The early search engine history and the development of that technology is probably the more fascinating part of the book. Which is ironic, since the book is supposed to be primarily about Google. My guess is that the author sacrificed the ability to write about more intriguing and behind the scenes happenings at Google for the almost unlimited access to the founders and the top managers.

Overall, this is a pretty good book, but a hard-nosed investigative reporter would probably have come up with more intriguing content.
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Format: Paperback
Let's get the obvious out of the way first - my copy of this book was published in 2005. Now, that might not seem like a huge revelation, but eight years is a long time in the age of the internet - in fact, Facebook didn't even exist when the book was written, at least in not in any recognisable form.

This book is so old that even Yahoo, the lumbering behemoth that eventually collapsed under its own weight, is listed as a major Google competitor, claiming 24% of the search market compared to Google's 51%.

Now that we've got that out of the way, though, we can focus on the positives - Battelle's book is a thoroughly engaging journey through the history of search engine development, covering everything from AOL to Alta Vista through Excite, Lycos and Ask Jeeves. Remember those guys?

In all honesty and despite its age, The Search is a gripping read that delivers on its promise to explain "how Google and its rivals rewrote the rules of business and transformed our culture." It's fascinating to learn the intricacies of search, from algorithms to the major innovation that was GoTo's Overture and Google's AdWords, two similar systems which finally monetised search with relevant, contextual advertising.

But perhaps most interesting is the final chapter, with Battelle's prophecies for the future of search and what he calls the 'perfect search', when search engines can actually understand their users' queries and answer them intelligently, like a librarian that's managed to memorise the contents of each of the books in his collection.

We're not quite there yet, but we've moved on in leaps and bounds since Battelle's book was published in 2005, and a lot of those predictions have already come to fruition. The rest are on their way...
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