eBook Pick – In The Plex: How Google Thinks, Works and Shapes Our Lives

This is my second eBook pick courtesy of my Kindle DX and sheds some light on the internal operations of Google covering things from its genesis in a university right through to significant products such as Google Mail, Android and, of course, search.

“In The Plex” was written by Steven Levy who also wrote Hackers, another book I have read on my Kindle DX which gave a great background on the early enthusiastic adopters of computers who wanted to find other uses for these machines including music, practical jokes and games.

Anyway, “In The Plex” gives a great insight into Google which has traditionally played its cards very close to its chest from an outsider perspective. Reading about how Larry Page and Sergey Brin built up the company from scratch was fascinating and to learn about how they reacted in particular situations was also somewhat humourous. Also learning about how Eric Schmidt took on the tough role of CEO to attempt to keep the young co-founders under some control while trying to familiarise them with how to run a company as a CEO. The book even covers the recent transition of the company leadership from Eric Schmidt to Larry Page (however brief) making it quite a comprehensive corporate biography of sorts.

The book even covers tensions between Apple and Google which will no doubt be covered in the upcoming Steve Jobs biography by Walter Isaacson (which is my next eBook). The tensions between the companies with the competing iPhone and Android products and the eventual resignation of Schmidt from the Apple board and the lead up to that event (including Schmidt leaving the board room when iPhone was being discussed) make a great read.

To put it simply, Google was and, to a degree still is, a master of keeping a lid on things unless absolutely necessary and the “don’t be evil” mantra is covered extensively throughout the whole book. The most interesting juxtaposition with this mantra includes the period in which Google maintained a presence in China whilst having to abide by the whims of the Chinese Government and “mysterious outages” while Baidu, the main player in search, seemed to coast along with minimal problems.

I think the book is a good read particularly for the geeks out there wanting to know more about what has happened behind that white page with the search box and the occasional interesting graphic in lieu of the Google logo. You can grab it at Amazon.

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