September 23, 2005
News & Opinion: The Search
It is very seldom that a book comes out with as much buzz as this book currently has. The book is called The Search. But what is neat is the buzz seems legit. First you have to consider the author's pedigree. Founder of The Industry Standard and co-founding editor of Wired are impressive. Then the book is a finalist for the FT/GS business book award and the reviews are off the charts. So I sat down with it. This is from the first chapter:
Implications What do Japanese teenagers think is cool this week? What pop star is selling, and who is falling off the charts? Which politician is popular in Iowa, or New Hampshire, or California, and why? Where do suburban moms get their answers about cancer?... So what does the emergence of such an artifact augur? What effect might it have on the multibillion-dollar marketing and media industries? Why have the governments of China, Germany, and France threatened to ban search engines like Yahoo or Google, and why might our own national security hinge on plumbing the depths of their databases?... The answers to these questions are not simple. But I hope to at least address them as I tell the story of search in the pages that follow. Search straddles an increasing complicated territory of marketing, media, technology, pop culture, international law, and civil liberties. Etched into the silicon of Googles more than 150,000 servers, more likely than not, are the agonized clickstreams of a gay man with AIDS, the silent intentions of a would-be bombmaker, the digital bread crumbs of a serial killer. Through companies like Google and the results they serve, an individuals digital identity in immortalized and can be retrieved upon demand. For now, Google cofounder Sergey Brin has assured me, such demands are neither made nor met. But in the face of such power, how long can that stand?I look forward to continuing this book.