LRB John Lanchester : The Global Id: "Putting all this together, we reach the conclusion that, on the one hand, Google is cool. On the other hand, Google has the potential to destroy the publishing industry, the newspaper business, high street retailing and our privacy. Not that it will necessarily do any of these things, but for the first time, considered soberly, these things are technologically possible. The company is rich and determined and is not going away any time soon. They know what they are doing technologically; socially, though, they can’t possibly know, and I don’t think anyone else can either. These are the earliest days in a process of what may turn out to be radical change. The best historical analogy for where Google is today probably comes from the time when the railroads were being built. Everyone knew that trains and railways would change the world, but no one predicted the invention of suburbs. Google, and the increased flow of information on which it rides and from which it benefits, is the railway. I don’t think we’ve yet seen the first suburbs."
Excellent essay/book review.