Inside Google: Read the footnotes

Google_book1The really fun footnotes are in books that skip references to academic works in favor of behind-the-scenes controversy and rumor-mongering. A new book on Google and its competitors, The Search, written by former Industry Standard chief John Battelle, goes this route with a few citations. One of the more interesting footnotes aptly illustrates how obsessed Google is with controlling information. Battelle writes that co-founder Larry Page initially balked at giving him a final interview for the book unless he could review it and append a footnote to any mention of Google, co-founder Sergey Brin or himself. Battelle refused, and after several weeks of negotiations, got his interview, in which Page explained his rationale that “journalism in general was extremely flawed, and that he was just trying to make it better.” One of Battelle’s footnotes is decidedly catty. He chose to footnote an anecdote about Google exec Marissa Mayer only taking red-eye flights with this insight: “At the time, Mayer was reportedly Page’s girlfriend, a fact that conferred upon her actions even more cultural significance inside Google.” I wonder if Google Print will index that. Judging from the Googleplex’s reaction to CNET using the search engine to glean some fairly innocuous tidbits about Google CEO Eric Schmidt, like his hobbies and political activities, Battelle might not want to wait around for his next invitation to the Googleplex to dine on the grilled petite New York sirloins and organic onion rings.

—Posted by Brian Morrissey