Review: In The Plex, by Steven Levy

Steven Levy just wrote a new book about Google called In the Plex: How Google Thinks, Works, and Shapes Our Lives. It succeeds the most on the “how Google thinks” part–if you want to understand how Google thinks, get an overview of Google, or understand its impact on the world, this is the book for you.

I think anyone interested in Google would enjoy this book. People who don’t know much about Google will get a good overview. People who are really interested in Google or the search industry will get a better understanding of how Google thinks. And even if you’re an expert, you’ll probably learn a few new tidbits. For example, Levy reveals the identity of GoogleGuy, the Google representative who answered questions from webmasters as early as 2001. You’ll also hear about inside-Google allusions like Audrey Fino or Emerald Sea.

Given that Levy isn’t a computer scientist or a Googler, I wasn’t sure how deftly he would internalize or explain how Google looks at the world, but for the most part he nails it. The book, like many accounts of Google, emphasizes the company’s focus on making decisions based on data and logic. At some points I felt that Levy pushed this point too hard. On the other hand, I recently had a conversation with a Google colleague about Lady Gaga, and the word “scalability” cropped up a lot more than you would expect for a conversation about a pop star. I don’t think Google is full of purely left-brained eggheads, but I’m willing to concede that compared to the average population, we probably skew further in that direction than most places.

Reading the book, I realized how much you could write about the different facets of Google. Even in 400+ pages, some topics get short shrift; it felt like Levy covered Google News in a single, condensed paragraph. But Levy gives complete and clear explanations for the parts of Google that receive his focus.

Here’s a simple litmus test: if you’ve read more than 2-3 of my blog posts in the past or follow me on Twitter, you’ll probably enjoy reading In The Plex.

Google Remain the head among all Search Engines

Google remains the search engine hit among all search engine sites, as it took over a 58.5 percent share of the search market in the month of October all over United States. The declaration given by ComScore, an Internet ranking sites says, Google has attained 1.5 share points vs. the previous month. Conversely, Yahoo again the trendy search engine gets the second place with 22.9 percent, followed by Microsoft sites with 9.7 percent, Ask Network remains at 4.7 percent and Time Warner Network gets 4.2 percent of shares. Month of October saw a 12 percent increase vs. September in Americans searching online, bringing the sum number of searches to 10.5 billion with the hub search engines.

Google exposes Widget Ads

Google recently exposed a new graphic ad format, which would permit advertisers to make interactive ads within widget, which could further be spread virally across the Internet. The search giant’s new expertise could be sued to make a variety of ads that could be allocated across Google’s web sites, as well as network of Google-affiliated sites.

Google by has signed up a group of huge advertisers to generate their own “gadgets,” the company’s term for widgets. The gadgets could as well include video, images, constantly updated data feeds, and mini versions of entire web sites.