Search And Destroy

A gang of Web-search companies is gunning for Google. The stakes have never been higher

The first director of the great library of Alexandria was a very smart man, and we all owe him a big debt of gratitude. When he showed up for work on his first day--that was around 300 B.C.--he realized he had 500,000 papyrus scrolls and no way to organize them. He had stumbled on an important truth: You can have more information at your fingertips than any other human being in history, but it won't do you much good if you can't find the piece you want. He solved the problem by ordering the scrolls alphabetically, a principle that survives to...

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