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Never Lost Again

author: Bill Kilday (2018)
narrator: Robert Shapiro
date read: 30 March 2022
rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

Fun, interesting book about the history of Google Maps, from somebody who worked at the startup Keyhole, then got acquired by Google, and eventually went on to work at Niantic. Bill Kilday worked in marketing rather than the engineering side, so although it touches on the technical aspects, it’s not an in-depth technical book.

This isn’t a book by a visionary – indeed, the author is quite upfront about how often they didn’t grok the potential of what was being built. In an industry full of boasting and ego, this book is somewhat restrained.

I trust the broad strokes, all of which I’ve heard in bits before (but it’s nice to have a single narrative), but I’m dubious about some of the details. For example, the description of the iPhone introduction is flat-out wrong in key aspects, e.g. the original iPhone didn’t have the blue “you are here” dot.

I found the book from a Twitter thread from somebody else who worked on Google’s mapping efforts, doing disaster response work.

Overall I enjoyed it and the narration is fine; it’s a compelling story and remarkable to reflect on how relatively recent it is.

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