Rick's Reviews > In the Plex: How Google Thinks, Works, and Shapes Our Lives

In the Plex by Steven Levy
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Jun 06, 2011

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Read in June, 2011

The first half, the early years, is super interesting and had lots of things I didn't know. And I do admire how this thing went right to the current time - it touched on all of the recent anti-trust stuff, etc. It's a pretty friendly account of google, but it frankly talks about the problems. There were some pretty choice passages in there that made me chuckle about some stuff. And it was funny to see a little Foursquare mention. The Google Books saga was SO interesting. So was the China stuff.

The two things that struck me: that transparency and openness are one half of google, the other being absolute secrecy. And the other is the weird blind spots they have in their data-driven life. Google is that einstein quote exemplified: "Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be measured." They don't believe that. And when they get data that proves that other data isn't that valuable, they ignore it - like when they kept at using SAT scores even after they developed their own data that SAT scores were not a good employment measure. The latter data conflicted with their belief in data, so even though it was data, they ignored it. It's fascinating to me. You see that happen time and time again.

The final thing that was eye opening was the DoubleClick cookie integration. I did not know about that, and I can't deny I feel a little squeamish knowing it now.
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