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March 13, 2009

Google, the Thinking Machine

"Google, la machine à penser" ("Google, the Thinking Machine") is a 50-minute documentary produced in 2007 that tries to explain Google's extraordinary success by analyzing its principles and idiosyncrasies. The documentary shows many of the things that define Google's corporate culture: from the colorful lava lamps, the hiring process to the recreation facilities and the internal debates.

Michael Malone, columnist at Wall Street Journal, describes Google as an "enormous predator" that manages to dominate almost any market it enters. In his opinion, Google is a huge organization that takes pragmatic and sometimes cynical decisions, while trying to portray a friendly image. At some point, a Google engineer says that Google Analytics is the most used analytics service because it's free and it works equally well for personal use and business use.

Unfortunately, the video is in French and I couldn't find an English subtitle, but there are many images from Googleplex that could be interesting even without a translation.


  1. Google, listening? Can we please have the video in English?


  2. enfin une vidéo sur Google en français :) pas de quoi se plaindre non plus, il y a même quelques passages en anglais.

    le documentaire est en tout cas assez informatif et intéressant, malheureusement, il manque les dernières minutes de l'émission...

  3. Ca laisse rêveur... le paradis existe ;)

  4. At 21.15 I think I can see the login / password being typed. With some time spent, I'd say I can bring the search space down to something very testable. Perhaps it's even a real word, some numbers, and 1-2 letters in the end? That could leave the last 1-2 to dominate the search space...

  5. Somebody talk to Konstantina or Constantina, president of Google Bulgaria about changing her login. But maybe they have monthly forced changes anyway, and the french video might be old enough?

  6. At last something in French !
    Merci !

  7. Hi,

    I'm French and maybe I could spent some time translating this video and making a sketchy transcript of what people say. Tell me if you're interested.

  8. Hi,

    Well I did this for the moment. I wrote it the way I'm thinking of while watching the video, so it may not be idiomatic. You can correct the text if you want. I realized that it's a way bigger task than I imagined but I think sometime I'll sit and take the time to do that properly. Well, here's what I've done. It goes until 7:37.

    ===== BEGINNING =====
    The Internet arrived in our daily lives in the middle of the 90s, at the point that we forgot how we used to do before.

    Michael Malone: I've never seen any company, neither Apple, eBay, Cisco, growing as fast as...

    Google just exploded!

    We learned to surf, to click, to use the Web and e-mail. Internet growed and became bigger and happened necessity to find the right information that we were looking for like a needle in the haystack.

    And then Google appeared!

    In a few months, this search engine revolutionized our usage of the Internet. The answer to all of our queries was here, on our screen, with a stupefying rapidity and accuracy.

    ===== 1:20 =====
    Michael Malone: I visited the place in the beginning in 1998, they were only about 30. They came to the office with their dog, they slept on the floor. I came back six months later, they were about 200. They filled the entire building. I came back again, they filled multiple buildings. When you go today, it's the HQ of a huge company. A lot of buildings. It became a world "titan" with thousands of employees.

    It is at the heart of the Silicon Valley that Google sat up its headquarters, the Googleplex.

    Michael Malone: Starting from scratch, two guys from Stanford with an idea to become a company with a value of 30 to 40 billion dollars five years later. It's a rather impressive creation of wealth.

    Used daily by half a billion people around the world, Google arouses fascination and questioning. Are they too much powerful and secret? Do they know too much about our personal life? Can we trust them? If nobody controls Google, does Google control us one day? And why do we see those weird lamps put everywhere?

    GOOGLE1: It's a particular item which is on the desk of every Googler. If you wait a little, it explodes inside, it looks like a volcano.

    Google opened up its doors for us to discover its world. So, to record everything beyond its homepage, we created our blog, our diary, the thinking machine.

    (seen on screen: GOOGLE, THE THINKING MACHINE
    http://a film by Gilles

    The first thing that you see when you enter any Google office around the world, it's the youth of people working here. Less than 30 years old, it seems to be the rule.

    GOOGLE1: These lava lamps represent Google, it was the first decoration item put up in the office in Mountain View. It became the image of the Googlitude. I think it's cool.

    From desks to screens, from Dublin to San Francisco, everywhere identical symbols and decors. Young people dressed by Google, symbol of belonging to a family, a new kind of world club.

    GOOGLE2: The problem is that it's too hot, it is a waste of energy. It's pretty but I don't use it.

    Google quickly went out of Mountain View in the Silicon Valley to "sow" offices everywhere around the world. In their bags, they took the lamps, foosball tables and big rubber balls. But in their box, they also exported an new way to organize working, iconoclast and different. This organization has its sources in the missions they have assigned themselves.

    GOOGLE3: Google is the most popular search engine, our mission is to organize all the information and make them universally available. My name is Vanessa Mayer, I'm vice president research and user experience. A lot of companies have to adapt their ethics to their actual activities. Our ethics never changed. It remains the same Larry and Sergei defined at the birth of Google, in 1998.

    The Google founders have known two things in their short lifes, the university and Google.

    GOOGLE3: When I met Larry and Sergei, I was in Stanford too and I knew the mentality of those IT students, their do rollerblade, eat pizza at breakfast and if they jostle you in the street, they do not even apologize. Larry and Sergei were like that, but they were transformed into business man capable to define a vision of what they want to accomplish, and what they wanted for Google, and it seemed to be very strong and undeniable.

    "Don't be evil!", organize the world information and make it available to everyone, Larry Page and Sergei Brin have dotted their ascent of small thoughts that recklessness and naivety leave you stunned. Those two guys grew up, became immensely rich, but student humor remained.

    ===== 5:37 =====
    SERGEI: There you can see around the world how people use Google. Each of these small dots that goes up to the sky represents bout 30 queries. Here are the United States, here is California. You can see that Japan by night is very busy. Look at Tokyo upraising, a lot of activity in China, the same in India, a little in the Middle East. Europa is in the middle of the day and it works very well, in a wide range of languages.

    MALONE: They are not very pragmatic, but they don't have to be, they have a huge organization behind them with a lot of brilliant people who are pragmatic. They can be idealistic, they can speak of the glorious goal of making knowledge available universally. It's good to have them.

    SERGEI: To get Google growing, what we want is people who search more and more. That signifies that we want healthier people, more educated people, including animals if they should begin searching. Actually, we want to build a better world.

    MALONE: Google succeeded better than anyone in maintaining a cool and relax atmosphere after getting on the stock market. It's Eric Smidth, President of Google who imposed that, because he is aware of what happens when that kind of company gets older and that there's money everywhere.

  9. Seems there is really no english-version of this video available.

    @Alex Maybe you have better sources/connections to find a english version. I would really welcom it.

    @John thx for the translation

  10. Merci beaucoup John, from NZ!

    Has anyone found any more serious analysis of Google?




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