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Tough times ahead for Google?

Opinion, Writing | August 8, 2011 ⋅ 4:53pm

Seven years after its IPO, Google is entering the next phase of its growth as a company. It’s impressively large by anyone’s standards, with $29.3 billion in revenue in 2010, nearly 30,000 full-time employees, and offices in 42 countries. And yet Larry Page, now Google’s CEO for the first time since 2001, still seems to view the company as a cross between a startup and his old Stanford University grad project. It’s neither, and it faces difficult challenges. The legal environment around Google is tightening even as it goes head-to-head with the industry’s largest companies, and the changes it must make to remain competitive may mean tomorrow’s Google little resembles the fun-loving Silicon Valley darling of yesteryear. Read on for the rest of my analysis of Google and the road it must travel, this week at

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Google gWater: By invitation only

Opinion | November 20, 2009 ⋅ 5:49pm

Google gWater glassGoogle’s Mountain View headquarters — the Googleplex, as it is known — is a wondrous place. The various little perks and bennies enjoyed by Google employees are legendary. Whether it’s free laundry service, a loaner umbrella when it’s raining, a loaner bicycle to get from building to building, or a help-yourself bucket of gummi worms, Google provides everything for you.

Visitors to the Googleplex are invariably stunned by these displays of Larry and Sergey’s nigh-prodigal largess. At most of their own offices, they’re lucky to score a free newspaper for the train ride home.

But there is one thing Google is less willing to provide, as I learned this week while covering the Chrome OS announcement. Next time you have a chance to visit the Google campus, just you try getting a drink of water. » More... » More »


My take on EW’s top 100 books

Books, Opinion | June 25, 2008 ⋅ 4:43pm

The Road, Cormac McCarthyEntertainment Weekly is running their “EW1000” feature, celebrating what they call the “new classics” — the best that the various fields of entertainment have had to offer since 1983. Now, normally I don’t think EW is someplace I would turn for literary recommendations, but since they have gone ahead and included a list of their Top 100 favorite books of the last 25 years, I figured, why not take a look and see what they came up with?

OK, so let’s see … best read of the last 25 years?

1.) The Road, by Cormac McCarthy.
OK, well, 25 years makes for an awfully crowded field, but I did enjoy this book thoroughly. Off to a decent start. Let’s see what else they’ve got, shall we? Just a few picks, at random… » More... » More »


Full of sound and fury

Opinion, Science | September 22, 2007 ⋅ 2:33pm

Andy Coghlan could learn a lot from the late Stephen Jay Gould. For all his contributions to the fields of paleontology and evolutionary biology, Gould is perhaps best known as a prolific science writer. An ambassador of science to the general public, he wrote his many books and magazine articles with a lay audience in mind, yet never compromised the science behind the story for the sake of petty sensationalism.

In his 1984 essay, “Sex, Drugs, Disasters, and the Extinction of Dinosaurs,” Gould wrote, “My greatest unhappiness with most popular presentations of science concerns their failure to separate fascinating claims from the methods that scientists use to establish the facts of nature. . . .If the growing corps of popular science writers would focus on how scientists develop and defend those fascinating claims, they would make their greatest possible contribution to public understanding.”

Some of today’s science writing lives up to Gould’s exacting standards; much of it falls short. Andy Coghlan’s article, “Dying for Some Peace and Quiet,” from the August 25, 2007 issue of New Scientist, fails so dismally that it merits special attention. » More... » More »


Harry’s back!

Opinion | May 10, 2007 ⋅ 12:42pm

Well, call me a cynic, but I really didn’t foresee this outcome. As it turns out, Harry McCracken has decided to stay on with PC World. I guess IDG really does have the sense to retain its best employees and not allow one of its strongest brands to be irreparably damaged by bureaucratic mismanagement.

One part of the story that Harry didn’t get into in his blog post was revealed by fellow PC World editor Bud McLeod in the official write-up, posted Wednesday. Not only will Harry be retaining his position as editor in chief and vice president at PC World, but erstwhile CEO Colin Crawford — the one who caused this stink in the first place — was kicked to the curb, sent to slink back to an office in IDG corporate management. Good riddance to bad rubbish.

I hope they find a better candidate to fill the CEO slot at PC World and MacWorld. In the meantime, congratulations to the entire editorial staff over there for sticking to your principles and continuing to turn out high-quality editorial, even in these tough economic times for the publishing industry. I’m sure you’re all as proud of Harry as I am.

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Good for you, Harry McCracken

Opinion | May 2, 2007 ⋅ 8:53pm

I just heard the news that Harry McCracken has resigned his position as editor in chief of PC World, one of InfoWorld’s sister publications. Apparently the newly-appointed CEO of the PC World/MacWorld group didn’t like it when Harry wrote a piece criticizing a company that also happened to be a PC World advertiser, so he took it upon himself to kill the story. Harry wouldn’t stand for it. Instead, he walked.

Sad to say, Harry’s case only demonstrates what seems to be a trend in trade publishing, driven from the top down. The suits will tell you that the publishing business isn’t about printing magazines, it’s about providing marketing channels for advertisers. A magazine isn’t a product, and a reader isn’t a customer. Rather, the reader is the product, and editorial is just a necessary evil (but one that they’re working to minimize). » More... » More »

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