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IN THE PLEX by Steven Levy Kirkus Star

IN THE PLEX

How Google Thinks, Works, and Shapes Our Lives

By Steven Levy

Pub Date: April 12th, 2011
ISBN: 978-1-4165-9658-5
Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Dense, driven examination of the pioneering search engine that changed the face of the Internet.

Thoroughly versed in technology reporting, Wired senior writer Levy (The Perfect Thing: How the iPod Shuffles Commerce, Culture, and Coolness, 2006, etc.) deliberates at great length about online behemoth Google and creatively documents the company’s genesis from a “feisty start-up to a market-dominating giant.” The author capably describes Google’s founders, Stanford grads Larry Page and Sergey Brin, as sharp, user-focused and steadfastly intent on “organizing all the world’s information.” Levy traces how Google’s intricately developed, intrepid beginnings and gradual ascent over a competitive marketplace birthed an advertising-fueled “money machine” (especially following its IPO in 2004), and he follows the expansion and operation of the company’s liberal work campus (“Googleplex”) and its distinctively selective hiring process (Page still signs off on every new hire). The author was afforded an opportunity to observe the company’s operations, development, culture and advertising model from within the infrastructure for two years with full managerial cooperation. From there, he performed hundreds of interviews with past and current employees and discovered the type of “creative disorganization” that can either make or break a business. Though clearly in awe of Google’s crowning significance, Levy evenhandedly notes the company’s more glaring deficiencies, like the 2004 cyber-attack that forced the removal of the search engine from mainland China, a decision vehemently unsupported by co-founder Brin. Though the author offers plenty of well-known information, it’s his catbird-seat vantage point that really gets to the good stuff.

Outstanding reportage delivered in the upbeat, informative fashion for which Levy is well known.