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Planet Google: One Company's Audacious Plan to Organize Everything We Know

by Randall Stross

Based on unprecedented access he received to the highly secretive "Googleplex," acclaimed New York Times columnist Randall Stross takes readers deep inside Google, the most important, most innovative, and most ambitious company of the Internet Age. His revelations demystify the strategy behind the company's recent flurry of bold moves, all driven by the pursuit of a business plan unlike any other: to become the indispensable gatekeeper of all the world's information, the one-stop destination for all our information needs. Will Google succeed? And what are the implications of a single company commanding so much information and knowing so much about us? As ambitious as Google's goal is, with 68 percent of all Web searches (and growing), profits that are the envy of the business world, and a surplus of talent, the company is, Stross shows, well along the way to fulfilling its ambition, becoming as dominant a force on the Web as Microsoft became on the PC. Google isn't just a superior search service anymore. In recent years it has launched a dizzying array of new services and advanced into whole new businesses, from the introductions of its controversial Book Search and the irresistible Google Earth, to bidding for a slice of the wireless-phone spectrum and nonchalantly purchasing YouTube for $1.65 billion. Google has also taken direct aim at Microsoft's core business, offering free e-mail and software from word processing to spreadsheets and calendars, pushing a transformative -- and highly disruptive -- concept known as "cloud computing." According to this plan, users will increasingly store all of their data on Google's massive servers -- a network of a million computers that amounts to the world's largest supercomputer, with unlimited capacity to house all the information Google seeks. The more offerings Google adds, and the more ubiquitous a presence it becomes, the more dependent its users become on its services and the more information they contribute to its uniquely comprehensive collection of data. Will Google stay true to its famous "Don't Be Evil" mantra, using its power in its customers' best interests? Stross's access to those who have spearheaded so many of Google's new initiatives, his penetrating research into the company's strategy, and his gift for lively storytelling produce an entertaining, deeply informed, and provocative examination of the company's audacious vision for the future and the consequences not only for the business world, but for our culture at large.

The Wizard of Menlo Park

by Randall Stross

At the height of his fame Thomas Alva Edison was hailed as "the Napoleon of invention" and blazed in the public imagination as a virtual demigod. Newspapers proclaimed his genius in glowing personal profiles and quipped that "the doctor has been called" because the great man "has not invented anything since breakfast. " Starting with the first public demonstrations of the phonograph in 1878 and extending through the development of incandescent light, a power generation and distribution system to sustain it, and the first motion picture cameras--all achievements more astonishing in their time than we can easily grasp today--Edison's name became emblematic of all the wonder and promise of the emerging age of technological marvels. But as Randall Stross makes clear in this critical biography of the man who is arguably the most globally famous of all Americans, Thomas Edison's greatest invention may have been his own celebrity. Edison was certainly a technical genius, but Stross excavates the man from layers of myth-making and separates his true achievements from his almost equally colossal failures. How much credit should Edison receive for the various inventions that have popularly been attributed to him--and how many of them resulted from both the inspiration and the perspiration of his rivals and even his own assistants? How much of Edison's technical skill helped him overcome a lack of business acumen and feel for consumers' wants and needs? This bold reassessment of Edison's life and career answers these and many other important questions while telling the story of how he came upon his most famous inventions as a young man and spent the remainder of his long life trying to conjure similar success. We also meet his partners and competitors, presidents and entertainers, his close friend Henry Ford, the wives who competed with his work for his attention, and the children who tried to thrive in his shadow--all providing a fuller view of Edison's life and times than has ever been offered before. The Wizard of Menlo Park reveals not only how Edison worked, but how he managed his own fame, becoming the first great celebrity of the modern age.

The Wizard of Menlo Park: How Thomas Alva Edison Invented the Modern World

by Randall Stross

A bold reassessment of Edison, telling the story of how he came upon his most famous inventions as a young man and spent the remainder of his long life trying for similar success.

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