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The Search: How Google and Its Rivals Rewrote the Rules of Business and Transformed Our Culture Hardcover – 22 Sep 2005

4.4 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Nicholas Brealey Publishing (12 Sept. 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1857883616
  • ISBN-13: 978-1857883619
  • Product Dimensions: 23.2 x 15.8 x 3.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,393,216 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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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.


"A must read for anyone endeavoring to understand one of the most important trends of this generation." -- Mary Meeker, Managing Director, Internet Analyst, Morgan Stanley

"A must read for anyone endeavouring to understand one of the most important trends of this generation," -- Mary Meeker, Managing Director, Internet Analyst, Morgan Stanley

"John Battelle coughs up a book that combines terrific reporting with rigorous analysis … you need to read this book." -- John Heilemann, author of Pride Before the Fall

"John Battelle coughs up a book that combines terrific reporting with rigorous analysis." -- John Heilemann, author of Pride Before the Fall

"John Battelle delivers insightful, thought-provoking, and essential reading." -- Seth Godin, author of All Marketers Are Liars and Purple Cow

"John Battelle has written a brilliant book. All searchers should read it." -- Walter Isaacson, CEO of the Aspen Institute; former Editor of Time

"John Battelle has written a brilliant business book. All searchers should read it." -- Walter Isaacson, CEO of the Aspen Institute; former editor of Time

Salerno presents a carefully researched--and devastating--exposé on SHAM's predatory and fraudulent practices and its corrosive effects on society. -- Publishers Weekly

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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By Jeremy Walton TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 19 May 2017
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I picked this up looking for a contemporary account of the rise of Google and the way in which search became so crucial in the navigation and organization of the web. It admirably succeeds in meeting these needs, reminding me of how Google sprinted past a host of competing search engines such as AltaVista and Yahoo thanks to the superiority of the algorithm it used to rank the relevance of its results. It also has a good account of how the company was established and its public offering in 2004; the same ground is covered by books like The Google Story, although - as far as I can recall - this has better coverage of technical detail.

Of course, the length of time which has elapsed between the book being written (in 2006) and me reading it (last week) can't be ignored - especially considering the rapid evolution of this technology and the way it's impacted our behaviour - but the author's emphases seem to have stood the test of time, and even his tentative predictions about future developments aren't so off-the-wall (though he seems to dismiss too quickly the importance of intellectual property in a joined-up world). Today's reader is reminded of how quickly reliable and authoritative search has become assimilated into our lives as Google becomes, in Sergey Brin's words, "the third half of your brain", and we give up keeping track of facts and figures, confident that they're just a click away. That's a transition which has been criticised elsewhere (see, for example, The Shallows: How the Internet is Changing the Way We Think, Read and Remember), but this book is a handy reminder of a time when the future appeared less clear, and how we got to where we are.
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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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