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Google’s Code is God

Mark Mzyk | January 4, 2008

Jeff Jarvis recently posted a blog post provocatively titled Google is God. It provides lots of interesting stats on the search giant.

Some of the stats given:

  • Google controls 65.1% of all searches in the U.S. at the end of 2007 and 86% of all searches in the UK, according to measurement company Hitwise.
  • Google was searched 4.4 billion times in the U.S. alone in October, 2007 (three times Yahoo), says Nielsen. Average searches per searcher: 40.7.
  • Google’s sites had 112 million U.S. visitors in November, 2007, says Nielsen.
  •  Google employed almost 16,000 people at the end of 2007, a 50% increase over the year before.

What does this tell me?  It tells me a lot of the Western world relies on Google.  But not Google the corporation, instead the Western world relies on Google the code.  The Google code is well oiled enough that if the company folded tomorrow, but its servers remained operational, most of us would probably still use Google until the power was cut.

What else can we see from this?  Well, my guess is Google runs on Linux (when Google doesn’t run on its own code).  So if Google’s code is a god, then Linux must be a Titan.  Open Source is the Mount Olympus of it all.

Of course, no one fears Olympus.  No need to fear the Titans, they were conquered long ago.  But a god still has the power to condemn us to Hell (if I’m allowed to mix my Greek Mythology metaphor with a bit of modern day religion).  As long as Google remains a black box, it will be a god that is feared, while also being worshiped.  That’s simply how it works.

Notice I bolded one fact about Google.  Google employed almost 16,000 people at the end of 2007, a 50% increase over the year before.

Ponder that for a moment.  That growth is astronomical.  But it also tells me something.  If you hire 8,000 people in a year, how can you ever hope to only hire only the best and the brightest, as I’ve heard is Google’s goal?  Some mediocre, and even poor, employees must slip through the process.  Like everything else, this has implications.  Google is now huge – and so must its code base be.  The amount of code produced at Google is probably increasing linearly, if not exponentially at this point.  And quality is probably dropping like a rock.

Not all at once – it might take a while before we ever notice, but I bet there is grumbling going on at Google behind closed doors about maintaining all of that.  It can’t all be beautiful code.  The odds don’t allow it.  One day, the cracks will start to show through the facade.

Google’s code might not achieve sentience, but it is already a god.  It controls a lot of what I do on the net, and it now controls 16,000 people full time.  How many more might it enslave this year?  And how long can it last as a god, before it to is conquered, just like the Titans?  Think of the previous gods: Microsoft, IBM, the list goes on and on.