Title: In the Plex
Author: Steven Levy
Page Count/Review Word Count: 428
In the Plex is literally the most comprehensive account of the founding and early days of Google that you’re likely to find on the market, and it’s a true pleasure to read. Google is a fascinating company, and it turns out to be super interesting to see how the early ethos of Larry Page and Sergey Brin have shaped the company’s culture.
It’s interesting to note that Levy has enjoyed more contact with some of the key figures in the industry than most others, and this access has helped him to form a compelling manuscript that borrows from elements of good fiction writing to deliver a biography of a company which feels as exciting as the company itself does.
Levy’s writing is clear and lucid, easy to understand and straight to the point, making this one of those books that seems to just whizz by because you enjoy reading it so much that you don’t have to stop to think. The author promises to show you “how Google thinks, works and shapes our lives”, and they certainly deliver on that promise – I already knew a lot about Google, but I didn’t know everything that Levy uncovered during his research.
I mean, how could you? It’s so thorough that there’s very little that’s known about Google that Levy didn’t cover, apart from perhaps a few of their newer innovations that didn’t make it into the scope of the book. You can tell that he’s writing with a passion, and yet he manages to maintain a sort of neutrality throughout – he writes using the facts, and while he does offer up his own interpretations, it’s ultimately left to the reader to arrive at their own conclusions.
If you’re interested in the internet then you’re pretty much guaranteed to enjoy this, because it’s playful enough to be enjoyable while straight-laced enough to teach you everything you need to know about the company. Google is one of a handful of companies which could change the world for the better in front of our eyes, so why wouldn’t you want to learn more about their company, culture and ethos?
Besides, if you’re as much of a geek as I am then you’ll have a nerdgasm at the explanations that are offered for some of Google’s most spectacular inventions, including the devilish simplicity that lay behind Page Rank, the algorithm they built a business on. There’s a good story behind Google AdWords, too.