Book Review: The Search

By: Budi Rahardjo

I have just finished reading "The Search: How Google and Its Rivals Rewrote the Rules of Business and Transformed Our Culture," by John Battelle. It's a book about search engine with focus on Google. The title of the book itself has a google-type font.

I like books that tell the history of computing or technology, and I consider that this book is one of them. It doesn't hurt that I am a fan of Google. So, I dig into the book right away as soon as I got it.

The content of the book is excellent. However, at times, I don't like his writing style. I am not sure what it is. I read the book again to find what's wrong with it, but could not find it. So, it's just me.

My second "problem" is with the layout of the book. It is not too pleasing for me. For example, section headings and page numbers are typed with underline. It is too crowded and makes it difficult to read. Maybe this is done to simulate the old way of indicating hyperlinks in earlier World Wide Web era? (I doubt it.) I felt as if I am reading WWW pages in the Mosaic era. Plain. WWW has moved forward (with CSS) and so has book layout.

Somebody said that there are books that "don't want to be read." I felt that this book is one of them. It took me quite a while to finish reading it.

Now, back to the content itself. This book is a well-researched book. I read a review somehwre saying that some (most?) of the facts are not new. Perhaps it is true. But, that may be true for some people who follow search engine trend and story closely. For most people, I think some of the facts are stil fascinating. Besides, having everything in one book is valuable. You don't have to search the internet to find it. Ironic, isn't it?

The book tells the story about search (engine), why search is important, and how search relates to business. It elaborates Yahoo and Google's business model. What is the difference between Google and Yahoo? Does advertising work? What is the (search) trend? Yes, it's a tall order, but Battelle did a very good job answering those questions (and some).

Finally, the $16.62 question is would I recommend the book? Yes, definitely. Score 4/5.


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