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From Fast Company:

It's too good to be true. That's what Andy Rubin was thinking back in 2005. He'd worked for more than a decade at various tech outfits, including a stint at Apple, and now Google was interested in acquiring Android, his latest venture. When he dug around to see if the Internet giant would be a good fit, Rubin met with what he assumed was the usual Silicon Valley spin: lots of talk about boundless freedom, perfect perks, a culture that prizes spectacular failure more than middling success. Right.

But now he works for Google, and Rubin knows something new: It's true. Google is different.

When you visit the Googleplex in Mountain View, California, what's special is elusive. The company looks like the standard-issue Wii-in-the-lounge, hieroglyphs-on-a-whiteboard, code-until-dawn tech shop. But the difference isn't tangible. It's in the air, in the spirit of the place.

Talk to more than a dozen Googlers at various levels and departments, and one powerful theme emerges: Whether they're designing search for the blind or preparing meals for their colleagues, these people feel that their work can change the world. That sense is nonexistent at most companies, or at best intermittent, inevitably becoming subsumed in the day-to-day quagmire of PowerPoints, org charts, and budgetary realities.

The marvel of Google is its ability, after 10 years, to continue to instill a sense of creative fearlessness and ambition, even as it has grown to more than 16,000 employees. Prospective hires are often asked, "If you could change the world using Google's resources, what would you build?" But here, this isn't a goofy or even theoretical question: Google wants to know, because thinking--and building--on that scale is what Google does. This, after all, is the company that wants to make available online every page of every book ever published. Smaller-gauge ideas die of disinterest.


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Comments (2)

Seth Finkelstein on March 16, 2008 3:49 AM:

Umm, it's probably not a good idea to believe everything you read in industry puff-rags.

I have to say, I fortuitously came across a paper copy of this magazine and this article had some strikingly fawning pictures of Google principals. The CIO could have stepped out of a Paris fashion show; the geeky energy guru was wrapped in solar friendly foil; etc.

It all reminds me of Thomas Frank's One Market UNder God, which described the Industry Standard's paeans to the new economy:
http://www.thenation.com/docprint.mhtml?i=20001030&s=frank

Here's more on the book from an NYT review:

"Instead of the classic populist stance on behalf of the little guy, market populism hijacks the power-to-the-people language to glorify capitalism and its biggest winners. Yeoman farmer, make way for the Foosball-playing high-technology chief executive, courtesy of evangelists like George Gilder, the former Reagan administration icon turned tech cheerleader; Tom Peters, the management guru; Walter Wriston, once the chief executive of Citicorp; and the creators of the Motley Fool stock-pickers Web site."
at
http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9907E2DD1F39F932A15751C1A9669C8B63

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A book in progress by

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Siva Vaidhyanathan

This blog, the result of a collaboration between myself and the Institute for the Future of the Book, is dedicated to exploring the process of writing a critical interpretation of the actions and intentions behind the cultural behemoth that is Google, Inc. The book will answer three key questions: What does the world look like through the lens of Google?; How is Google's ubiquity affecting the production and dissemination of knowledge?; and how has the corporation altered the rules and practices that govern other companies, institutions, and states? [more]

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Like the Mind of God (22 posts)

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Don't Be Evil (9 posts)

Is Google a Library? (43 posts)

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The Dossier (19 posts)

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Rewiring the Nation: The Place of Technology in American Studies (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2007)


The Anarchist in the Library (Basic Books, 2004)


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Copyrights and Copywrongs: The Rise of Intellectual Property and How it Threatens Creativity (New York University Press, 2001)

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