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The Search

How Google and its rivals rewrote the rules of business and transformed our culture

The Search by John Battelle
by John Battelle

Published by Nicholas Brealey Publishing, 2005
Hardback, 312 pages
ISBN: 1-85788-361-6

As the dominance of Google within the search market, and increasingly within the broader Internet community, grows then so do the number of books being written about this phenomenon.

According to author John Battelle, a company that can answer the question ‘what does the world want’ – in all its shades of meaning – can unlock the most intractable riddles of business and arguably of human culture itself. And, he claims, for the past few years, that’s exactly what Google has been doing.

Having entered the market long after Yahoo, AltaVista, Excite, Lycos, and other online pioneers, Google offered a radical new approach to search. It redefined the idea of viral marketing, survived the dot-com crash, and pulled off the largest and most talked-about initial public offering in the history of Silicon Valley.

But this book covers much more than just the inside story of Google’s rapid growth and the dominance. It also puts it into context, being a book about the past, the present and future of search technology and the enormous impact it’s starting to have on marketing, media, pop culture, dating, job hunting, international law, civil liberties, and just about every other sphere of human interest.

As the Internet has revolutionised access to information, so Google has become the gateway to instant knowledge. It has created a goldmine of information and organised it in a more effective way than any other online search tool so that powerful organisations (including the US government) will want to get their hands on it.

Battelle writes in an informal and accessible manner although the subject matter does not make this a light read. He reveals how search technology works, explores the increasing power of targeted advertising, and looks back on the frenzy of the recent Google IPO when the company tried to rewrite the rules of Wall Street and declared ‘Don’t Be Evil’ as its corporate motto. He also considers where search technology will go from here.

For anyone who wants to understand how Google really succeeded – and the implications of a world in which every click can be preserved forever – The Search is an eye-opening and indispensable read.