Google UK Thinks … Quarterly

Google UK has created a magazine, or small book, about data for some of its business customers, and, thinking of the rest of us, has put the thing online. The name, Think Quarterly, suggests that we’ll see three more of these during the coming year.

What’s the big deal? Well, in a way, nothing. There are lots of online “books,” and data’s no stranger in the list of current tech topics. But this is Google, albeit a field office, and if there’s a company that should know a thing or two about data, it’s Google. As well, when the tech giant puts out a “book,” we’re pretty curious to see what tech marvels they’ve come up with to showcase their material.

Second thing first: no tech marvels at all, just Flash (and, it’s true, some QR codes). Not even HTML5 for heaven’s sake. And just in case that isn’t trad enough for you, they’ve arranged with issuu for you to be able to download it as a PDF file (registration required). Clearly, the target Google customers must be a very conservative bunch. Of course, you could see this as a cunning attempt by a tech giant to cosy up to the book lovers by publishing in print and being lame on the tech side. Still, too bad.

Sadly, although there’s some nice artwork in the layout, this effort is also far from perfect as a book. Look at the terrible word spacing in the very first article, a result of using a justified margin with no hyphenation and, it seems, no proper digital type-setting tool.

Now the content. It’s worth a look. Much of it, as you’d expect, given its genesis, is aimed at exploring and charting more sophisticated relations between Google and its customers. But there are some interesting notions and some interesting links as well. (It’s a 64 page effort, so I’ve only had a chance to skim it.) I’m particularly interested in the push to have businesses join the free access to data movement, and, as always, it’s enjoyable to hear from that data darling, Hans Rosling.

Take it for a ride read this weekend. Let me know what you think.

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