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more on Google April 3, 2007

Posted by Abby in blogs, Employees, Knowledge economy, Workplaces.
5 comments

Hi all,

So I know we’ve all discussed Google at length, but while thinking of different organizations to tackle for the next paper, I decided to look at the ‘Official Google Blog’.

http://googleblog.blogspot.com/

It’s well-known that Google’s organizational culture is definitely out of the ordinary, and is much more liberal and open than any other office, but I had no idea to what extent. This week, not an April Fool’s Day prank – someone lost their pet python IN THE OFFICE!

The organization has great ways for co-workers to bond, such as running a relay together. And is also very creative in holding events such as the ‘Live Art Day’ when an artist was invited to create a work right there, at Google headquarters! (There is a really cool video posted on the blog) They also had a Chinese ice sculptor.

On further investigation, Fortune Magazine also featured (through CNNMoney) the perks of being a ‘Googler’. Here’s a few of them:

  • Free car wash or oil change while you work
  • There are 11 free gourmet cafeterias on-site, as well as numerous cafes
  • If you want to be environmentally friendly, they will give you $5000 towards a hybrid car.
  • Just have a baby? Congratulations! Your employer will give you $500 to put towards take out meals at home, while you get through those first few months with the newborn.
  • You can get your haircut ‘on campus’
  • Free laundry machines to help balance home and work duties!

http://money.cnn.com/galleries/2007/fortune/0701/gallery.Google_perks/index.html

Wow, all that explains why they’re the #1 Company to Work for!

The Future of Books March 28, 2007

Posted by breichen in civil society, innovation, Internet, Knowledge economy, Retail, Technology.
4 comments

Employees of Google, the world’s largest web-search company, are scanning books into computers using secret methods at secret locations. Although Google has not released any official tallies, Daniel Clancy, the project’s top engineer, has given some clues as to what is actually going on. He has stated that Google has a contract with UC Berkeley requires them to digitize some 3,000 books a day for the university. Google also has contracts with 12 other universities and a number of independent publishers. Some conservative estimates are that Google will be digitizing books at a rate of 10 million per year. The total number of book titles said to exist is estimated at 65 million.

This is not the first project like this to exist. The Internet Archive is a non-profit organization created in 1996 by Brewster Kahle in the attempt to recreate a contemporary Library of Alexandria containing all public-domain texts and videos. Other organizations such as Amazon, Microsoft, and Yahoo! have all been scanning books but the scale to which Google is digitizing them is far greater than any of them.

As books go digital, new questions, both philosophical and commercial, arise. How, physically, will people read books in future? Will technology “unbind” books, as it has unbundled other media, such as music albums? Will reading habits change as a result? What happens when books are interlinked? And what is a book anyway?

The physical medium of books is unlikely to disappear in the digital age. Sony already sells an electronic book reader with about 12,000 titles available for download. Ron Hawkins, head of marketing for the Sony Reader, states that ““our mission is not to replace the print book.” You may be wondering then, who is going to be reading the millions of pages being digitized by Google and their competitors? The idea is that some people will read the books on a computer screen, some will use Google as a method for previewing books they are considering purchasing in paper form, and some will use the service to “look for specific snippets that interest them.”

Print media is already being diminished by digital replacements. Wikipedia for example, is a free online encyclopedia which is said to have severely reduced the sales of paper-bound alternatives. It is speculated that books which people would not ordinarily read all the way through or that require frequent updates will likely migrate to the digital medium. Other examples of print media being accessed in a digital format more and more frequently include dictionaries, cookbooks or recipes, telephone books/directories, etc.

It will be interesting to see how Google’s project turns out. I think it would be pretty amazing if you could get a digital copy of ANY book in the world just by searching Google Books. I don’t think, however, that paper-bound books are likely to disappear behind the shadow of the digital book.