[By Nic Lindh on Saturday, 11 November 2006]
In The Search, John Battelle provides a short and effective history of the evolution of search technologies on the Internet with a natural focus on Google.
Unfortunately, at the end of the book Battelle switches into prognostication mode, attempting to divine the Future of Search. This piece doesn’t work quite as well, but for the reader who isn’t all that familiar with technology it may provide some food for thought. It would have been nice to see the crystal ball-gazing section replaced with more granularity on the business of search as it stands today and through the brief history of the commercial Internet.
That being said, the pieces of the book that deal with the history and technologies of search and especially the individuals that transformed how we use the Internet is colorful and interesting, written in breezy magazine style.
While it’s an enjoyable read, the book suffers quite a bit from Wired-style techno-optimism and minimizes—if not glosses over—the very real and very scary privacy implications of having our entire online existence recorded, bought and sold by companies, and stored for posterity.
Nevertheless, well worth a read if you’re at all interested in an area of technology that’s becoming more and more central to all our daily lives.