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In the beginning was the personal computer. Not long after, people started connecting them together on networks, culminating in the World Wide Web and the Web browser, which launched the first great era of the Web. Then came the search engine, which launched the second great era of the Web, the era of Google. Now comes the third: the era of social networks. Facebook has jumped out to a commanding lead, but Google hasn't really started fighting yet. So the stage is set for a battle of, well, biblical proportions. The wizards at the Googleplex in Mountain View, Calif., are working furiously on a social network to rival Facebook's. Just a few miles away, in Palo Alto, Facebook is preparing for an initial public offering to give it the money it needs to take on Google's Goliath. And last month, the clash got a bit ugly when it was revealed that Facebook had hired a public relations agency to slime Google's social networking tactics.
Date of Publication: June 2011