I just finished reading Ken Auletta’s “Googled,” about the ubiquitous Internet goliath. It’s a very good book that explains clearly and completely why Google is such a dominant player on the web — and why so many people want to work there. Auletta also does a fine job of outlining the dilemmas faced by the newspaper, magazine, book and television industries as the world becomes more and more comfortable with online reading, viewing and so forth.
There are many lessons to be gleaned from this book for anyone in the print media business who is striving to change the business model to not only incorporate the web but to make it the primary focus of the enterprise. One of the main lessons is that newspaper companies need to hire more and better computer engineers and let them help guide the way. All us old-school word people may have vaguely decent ideas about how to make our websites better and more profitable but we need engineers to be involved to not only implement what we envision but to come up with better and more efficient ways of doing things.
This is primarily why Google has leaped far ahead of the pack. Here is a quote from Eric Schmidt, Google CEO, from the book: “I sometimes feel like I live on another planet and speak a different language from traditional media companies.” Here is a common mantra heard at Google: “Have a healthy disregard for the impossible.”
I read a lot of books this decade, more than I ever had in any previous decade. Despite being a voracious reader, I’m disappointed not to have read a lot more. I haven’t gotten around yet to so many great books. Nevertheless, I think I’ve read enough of them over the past 10 years to offer a decent list of my favorites.
Here, in no particular order, is my favorite fiction published from 2000-2009.
– Empire Falls, Richard Russo
– John Henry Days, Colson Whitehead
– Harry Potter series, J.K. Rowling
– Drop City, T.C. Boyle
– The Known World, Edward P. Jones
– Atonement, Ian McEwan
– Snow, Orhan Pamuk
– The Road, Cormac McCarthy
– Citizen Vince, Jess Walter
– The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, Junot Diaz
– The Motel Life, Willy Vlautin
– The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, Michael Chabon
– Inherent Vice, Thomas Pynchon
– The Shadow of the Wind, Carlos Ruiz Zafon
– Dangerous Laughter, Steven Millhauser
– True North, Jim Harrison
This WordPress site is now my main website, with the domain of geoffschumacher.com.
Critics have been praising the new TNT drama “Men of a Certain Age,” starring Ray Romano, Scott Bakula and Andre Braugher. And they would be right — it is a good show. I like that it’s realistically understated. It’s funny, not from the characters cracking one-liners but from the humorous situations that arise in the everyday lives of these three middle-aged men. It’s also deadly serious, slowly revealing the midlife problems that each guy is dealing with, or not dealing with. I also like that it’s a well-written show yet none of the characters is a writer, as is so often the case. Romano owns a party supply store, Bakula is a failed actor who works temp jobs, and Braugher is a car salesman working for his father’s dealership (called “Thoreau Chevrolet”). Romano is separated from his wife and lives in a hotel room. He also has a gambling problem. Braugher’s father is an overbearing jerk who is constantly on his case. He needs to quit but he has too many bills and obligations to just up and quit. He also has health problems. Bakula kind of glides through life in a way that seems a little too carefree. He is supremely frustrated that he hasn’t been able to make a real living as an actor. A Sisyphus theme runs through the show that seems entirely appropriate to modern life. I’ll be watching this show for a while.
“Googled” by Ken Auletta — nonfiction
“Reno’s Big Gamble” by Alicia Barber — nonfiction
“The Third Kind of Knowledge” by Robert Fitzgerald — nonfiction
“The Financial Lives of the Poets” by Jess Walter — fiction
“Out of Africa” by Isak Dinesen — nonfiction