Google, long known for it speed in serving up searches faster than a speeding bullet has of recent date been spending more time "thinking" than delivering results. From "Think with Google" a platform initiated in June, 2010 that generated insightful and inspiring bite-size videos - to the release of its first edition of "Think Quarterly" a 69-page dive into the world of data and its impact on business - Google is taking the scholarly high-road in analyzing and reflecting on today's digital landscape.
This video was followed up by a retrospective look at what Google termed "great insights we gleaned through research with (our) partners in 2010."
Today, Google quietly launched "Think Quarterly," its own full-length online magazine, a quarterly publication that focuses a "breathing space in a busy world." More a book than an online pub, Forbes' correspondent Michael Humphrey described it as "beautifully designed, engaging at times and wonkish at others," but "quintessentially Google… nerdy, neat and never-straying from what it knows."
Google explains itself as such:
Subsequently, this free PDF download was tweeted out from their Twitter account, one hour before this post.
The content is somewhat 'heady' with Google's quirky sensibility accompanied by articles you might find in Salon or the AtlanticWire. Designed and edited by the creative agency The Church of London, one of the lead articles is provided by Guy Laurence, CEO of Vodafone UK whose topic speaks to "data overload."
Hal Varian, who wrote in 2009 that the job of statisticians will be a "sexy" post in 10 years, follows up Laurence's point by labeling the current availability of vast volumes of data as " data obesity." He asserts, that "we used to be calorie poor and now the problem is obesity. We used to be data port, now the problem is data obesity."
Ben Parr at Mashable doesn't know exactly where all this "think tank" analyses is taking Google. "It’s unclear whether the new online magazine is another sign that Google is entering the media business or whether it’s just a project to feed the company’s intellectual curiosity," he says.
I find Google's approach novel as it positions the search giant as a "thinker" rather than just a "doer." While the Big G still struggles to develop a social network that is meaningful enough to compete with its number search threat going into this next decade - namely Facebook - I think reaching out to scholars and business magnates working the digital space is a very wise thing to do. It distinguishes the search firm from those compliant with the status or quo or one content to rest on its laurels - while forging new ground in thought leadership.
Whether it will be enough to show that Google is more than just a search algorithm, and prevents it from being dismissed as the company "that thinks too much" and ends up quitting things as fast it starts (erhh, cough, "Buzz, "Wave"), we will have to wait and see in the next three months.