An unofficial blog that watches Google's attempts to move your operating system online since 2005. Not affiliated with Google.

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February 1, 2007

Doing What's Important

This is a very meaningful quote from Sergey Brin, Google's co-founder:
We've had this fortunate streak that when we've done things that have impacted our users and society as a whole — positively, in a significant way — we've been rewarded by that downstream in some way, even though we may not have envisioned exactly what it was right offhand. We didn't have ads when we first put up Web search. It wasn't clear it was great business when we started search. In fact, the companies that were doing search were moving away from it. But we just thought it was important, and we thought that where there was a will there would be a way. And in fact it turned out to be a great way to make money doing search with targeted advertising.

That was Sergey's answer to New Yorker's question if book search could be a profitable business. Even if it's not, it's too important not to do it.

No one really knows how many books there are. The most volumes listed in any catalogue is thirty-two million, the number in WorldCat, a database of titles from more than twenty-five thousand libraries around the world. Google aims to scan at least that many. "We think that we can do it all inside of ten years," Marissa Mayer, a vice-president at Google who is in charge of the books project, said recently, at the company’s headquarters, in Mountain View, California. "It's mind-boggling to me, how close it is. I think of Google Books as our moon shot."

Google hopes to improve the quality of the search results, because books contain much valuable information than web sites. "Google has become known for providing access to all of the world's knowledge, and if we provide access to books we are going to get much higher-quality and much more reliable information. We are moving up the food chain."


  1. I think indexing the web + indexing books brings higher quality results than either one on their own, though I don't agree that books by themselves are "higher quality information" or anything. It's just a different media better suited for some info needs and less suited for certain other info needs. A blog for example may be more up-to-date and dynamic to feedback, whereas a book may be more long-term oriented and coherent. A book, as of today, also comes at a price; even when Google Book search is able to scan a modern book, it may not display it in its entirety to users (unless it passed to the public domain, or copyright laws change dramatically).

  2. Indeed books are great resources of information and unlike websites and blogs, there can hardly be any spams (at most not that well written books as publishers will screen through them anyway) so I really support Google using books as a source of knowledge yet I don't think it is a good idea to integrate book information with traditional web searches as Google
    web search is for the *web* and if search for Yahoo Calendar returns Yahoo Calendar guide, it wouldn't be useful.

  3. Just what has Google done that has had impact on society? What an incredible ego that company has.

  4. Arguably the most short sighted comment I've ever heard.

    Turn google OFF. Just for a day... Watch what happens to 'society'.

    I won't suggest that Google has been good or bad for our global or local society - but I can most definitely assert thet it wouldn't be difficult to quantify a more than notable effect.