How has it advanced its MapReduce and other core algorithms to handle the complexity? Does it still have a flat management structure despite growing to as many as 18,000 people?
Google's PR team declined to answer those questions for me, but I don't need their help articulating the impact the company is having on the electronics industry. Google's founders have a passion for computer science and technology in general that is stoking a wide variety of projects quietly going on inside its walls and capturing the imagination of its Silicon Valley neighbors.
At a time when the computer industry has been maturing and consolidating, Google and its Web 2.0 fellows are writing a new chapter in the history of computing by making the Internet data center the next big platform.
On the commercial front, they are making real the concept of software as a service for everything from my sister's e-mail to major IT programs and scientific research projects. Back in the labs, researchers are using the algorithms created for these data centers to help find ways to program tomorrow's many-core processors.
The company is using some of its profits to fuel the mobile Internet. Its Android platform is one of several hammers knocking down the walled garden networks cellular carriers have created. A new era in consumer electronics will arise from these smart mobile devices tapping into massive data centers over the open Internet.
Google's founders are also passionate about climate change and alternative energy. One look at the electricity bill for their data centers would send even a Luddite running to Al Gore for therapy. Just what Google's contributions in this field will be beyond consciousness raising are still to be determined.
I don't like some of the changes. The explosion in Web services has ruptured--perhaps fatally--the traditional advertising model. I learned that lesson after I earned a whole $75 from Ad(non)Sense for a year's work populating a site on Google's Blogger. Today the entire publishing industry is adrift at sea, looking for new business models to stay afloat.
In the end, getting Googled means learning to live on Internet time and scale. It's an experience laced with fear and excitement. There's no going back.