I just received a copy of Inside Larry and Sergey's Brain by Richard Brandt. I'm generally pretty bad at reading this type of book and getting a review out in a timely manner, so this time I'm going to try my best to write a review of the first chapter.
However, before I get that far, I've formed an impression based on the opening analogy. Brandt starts off by conjuring an image of the library of Alexandria. He then fast forwards to present day, drawing an analogy between that collection and Google - Google is the librarian for the web. Right off the bat I feel this analogy is weak. To me, a librarian - a good one - is someone who knows firstly about the relationship between information and location and secondly about how to elicit enough information from the enquirer to leverage this knowledge. A really good librarian will actually be able to find you the right information, not just the book in which it is captured.
Google's search engine has an entirely different model. It doesn't elicit information from the user in order to apply some organized knowledge to help find the right result. It responds to a direct stimulus relying on the users skill in search query tuning.
Am I being pedantic? Perhaps, but the tech media has found it easy to elevate certain companies by analogies which provide them with super human powers that little deep understanding results. Remeber the phrase "database of intentions"?
Google (and other search companies) are businesses whose product is the audience and whose customers are advertisers.