Saturday, December 15, 2007

Get your head in the clouds

I spend about 8 hours on my computer, and roughly 10% of that time belongs to some Google application. I stand in awe of a system that can pull up exactly what I'm looking for, regardless of how obscure the subject, in a fraction of a second. Until today, I had resigned myself to the fact that there was some magic Google elf pulling the info for me. I have confirmed that not only is there an elf, there could actually be a million of them out there in the Googlesphere, known increasingly as a "cloud".

While it focuses on Google and one engineer's story, Business Week's cover story this week talks broadly about how our information world is increasingly being built upon this idea of clouds, a group of hundreds of thousands of computers that are all bolted together to store massive quantities of data. While many companies are struggling this holiday season to stay afloat, Google is contemplating world domination of information. Their mantra can be described as "Whatever you can dream, dream it bigger." Imagine being at a company that tells you you're wildest dreams are too small, and that you need to formulate projects that are far more outlandish than even your wildest expectations.

There is a lesson in this wild dream making: every dream can be broken down into very small pieces that can be handled by individual "cloud elves" and then aggregated to get you exactly to where you need to be, all in about half a second. And there is no finite number of tasks. The possibilities are truly endless.

While many companies are in the mode of tempering expectations, pulling in spending, and plummeting morale this holiday season, Google is doing the exact opposite. They are determined to fly high and make sense of the massive amount of knowledge out there. They are so optimistic about what they are capable of accomplishing that they feel these clouds may ultimately push the limits of human imagination. Talk about a tipping point! We have been told for centuries that the human imagination is the most powerful tool on Earth - is it possible that when we pool our imaginations together, we can build something larger than our own sense of creativity?

One last astonishing thing about Google. In all of its success and dreaming, they maintain a public humility that is staggering. They are absolutely fearless when it comes to failure so long as there is learning involved. Their CEO, arguably one of the most powerful and wealthiest men on the planet, sits in a cubicle and moves around from building to building so as to interact with different people at all levels of the organization. And he responds to emails from people at all levels at a unbelievable rate. He is respectful of people's time, both on and off the job. With someone like this at the helm, it's no wonder that Google believes in defying limits.

The Business Week article can be found at

The picture above can be found at

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