|What Would Google Do?
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A bold and vital book that asks and answers the most urgent question of today: What Would Google Do?
In a book that's one part prophecy, one part thought experiment, one part manifesto, and one part survival manual, internet impresario and blogging pioneer Jeff Jarvis reverse-engineers Google—the fastest-growing company in history—to discover forty clear and straightforward rules to manage and live by. At the same time, he illuminates the new worldview of the internet generation: how it challenges and destroys, but also opens up vast new opportunities. His findings are counterintuitive, imaginative, practical, and above all visionary, giving readers a glimpse of how everyone and everything—from corporations to governments, nations to individuals—must evolve in the Google era.
Along the way, he looks under the hood of a car designed by its drivers, ponders a worldwide university where the students design their curriculum, envisions an airline fueled by a social network, imagines the open-source restaurant, and examines a series of industries and institutions that will soon benefit from this book's central question.
The result is an astonishing, mind-opening book that, in the end, is not about Google. It's about you.
- 3.5 Stars: Imperfect writing but makes you think
At some point, you will use a Google platform. You will use it to search. You will use it for directions, or drawing, or collaboration. You will use it as Google Maps, Google Earth, Google Docs, Google SketchUp, Google Health, or even YouTube (owned by Google). And yet, despite the gazillions of dollars we users are generating for Google...the amazing thing is that to us, the user, it all "feels" free. And not just Google. Facebook, MySpace, Flickr, and others...all "feel" free, and yet, virtually an entire new economy has been created based on these "free" services. What exactly is going on here?
Jeff Jarvis - a journalist, professor, and media commentator/visionary - has given thought to this, and shares his thoughts and opinions in this book. At the heart is a central message: While many companies were sleeping, the rules of business changed, at least as it pertains to business built on, or enabled by, the internet. Or maybe not all the rules changed (e.g. Wal-Mart, the big dog, will remain the big dog), but a new set of rules has been layered on top (e.g. small is the new big). With those new rules (plus, admittedly, luck), Google has become a behemoth, cyberly speaking. In the process, Google helped redefine the fundamental nature of the relationships between seller, buyer, advertiser, and the "middlemen" whose value in society is rapidly evaporating.
In WWGD, Jarvis enumerates (although not in an organized way) the "rules" that, in turn, lead to what he calls "virtuous cycles," which are really forms of "win-win." Value is created not by rigid products or websites that "control" content (Yahoo and AOL are Jarvis's examples). Rather, value comes in the form of platforms that enable people to do what they want. Rapid experimentation is encouraged (easy with electrons, hard with physical materials). Customers in this new view are not homogenous, but belong to small, highly specialized niche interests, and instead of being ignored (the old "mass market" approach), they are sought after, because endless numbers of small niches become a giant market in the aggregate. Other interesting examples of the new rules (paraphrased):
- give control to the customer
- small is the new big (although big is still big)
- don't charge what the market can bear, charge the absolute minimum necessary, free if possible
- your competition becomes your partner
After a slightly repetitious exploration of his thesis, in the second part of the book Jarvis speculates on how traditional industries could adopt the new rules, in other words, how they would re-tool themselves if they asked, "What Would Google Do?" While the speculations are utopian and ignore the myriad negatives that could come from the law of unintended consequences, they are thought provoking. True, we would be foolish to discount the role of serendipity in Google's success, but some of Jarvis's speculations help paint a picture in which being a consumer would actually be a joy, rather than the chore it is today. Advertisements could become something consumers look forward to. Products become intensely personal. Whether or not Jarvis's industry-specific speculations are realistic is beside the point: the concepts opened my way of thinking, and if I were launching a new small business, I would look hard at these concepts because they may touch on a truth about how customers want to be treated.
The book isn't perfect by any stretch. The writing will be viewed by some as accessible, by others as a bit precious. You will either find Jarvis's self-referential comments as demonstrating one of his points (free flow of information is ultimately inevitable) or as self-aggrandizing. Like so many business books today, there is frequent reference to the author's own web presence. And frankly, the text tends to read like an extended blog entry.
Other peeves: I wish he had summarized the "rules"; a simple table would have sufficed. And for my taste, the book doesn't provide enough practical detail or deep understanding of exactly HOW Google works. I know from reading the book there are terms like "Google Adsense" and "Google keywords" but my understanding is vague. Those looking for a practical roadmap of getting into the Google universe (or should I say "Googleverse") will need to look elsewhere.
Criticisms aside, I found this a worthwhile, if not great, introduction to "Web 2.0." It is a reasonable choice for a book if you are interested in getting a sense of the way internet-enabled relationships fuel a new business model, and its speculative nature should stimulate some thinking if you are in a business....more info
- Well Researched & Captivating
Jarvis provides an outstanding overview detailing the backbone of the Google methodology, incorporating reasons for its colossal success as well as its impact on the future of industry. Jarvis explains how Google represents a new way of doing business that will change the old age formula of economics as well as the structure of all industries. The core message within this book will leave any reader with an enlightened view of Google and its impact on the world.
Google collaborates with customers, gives them ownership, adapts based on their feedback. Google exemplifies the value of a free economy, catering to networks as oppose to creating them, being the platform instead of owner or distributor. Google insists on openness, being as transparent as possible, charging as little as it can in exchange for growth. These elements, as well as others, encompass the core of Jarvis's evaluation, giving credence to why Google has become one of the most significant companies on earth.
Equally compelling is Jarvis's account of the Google methodology on many industries; media, auto manufacturing, airlines, real estate, medicine, law, and others. Jarvis justifies the notion that all companies in all industries could benefit from stepping out of the old model and accepting the Google attitude, even going as far as insisting that many established companies will lose out if they do not.
Jarvis is as convincing as he is thorough, and the book will appeal to those seeking an overview of business concepts with an eye on the future. Jarvis is not always eloquent, nor is the collection of chapters always smooth flowing; however, the content is well researched and captivating making this a very worthwhile read.
- Perhaps a Bit of Hyperbole, but Some Good Thoughts and Observations Nonetheless
I understand the reasons for some of the more critical reviews of this book, but it would be a mistake to dismiss Jarvis's work out-of-hand. There's much to be learned in his easy-to-read, story-driven book.
There can be little doubt that business has changed significantly in the last decade, and Google and the 2.0 web are central to many of the changes. This is not to give Google undue credit for these developments, but it is to say that one can learn a lot about the new normal of business by observing this company, its products, its methods, and its driving principles.
Jarvis's observations and "laws" should evaluated and applied with caution (heck - he ignored a couple of them when he decided to write this book!), but there are good, thought-provoking, status quo-challenging concepts throughout his work. If you're interested in better understanding the many changes the web has brought (and continues to bring), What Would Google Do? is a good place to start....more info
- A must read for every business owner
This book is a must-read for business owners or managers who want to understand how Google has become such a dominant player and provides ideas and suggestions for how to apply these strategies in other businesses. After reading this book, it completely changed the way that I saw my own business model. I'm now working on a whole new strategy to leverage some of the ideas I gleaned from the Mr. Jarvis. Great job!...more info
- I Kept Taking Bites but I Never Got a Full Meal
WWGD is really two books in one. Book one is "Google Rules" and it's a delightful tour of the latest in internet marketing techniques. There's nothing revolutionary here, just a concise re-cap of the past few years. One reviewer commented that it reads like a bunch of blog entries. I agree! There's absolutely no flow to this book whatsoever. However, I loved that aspect of the book. Whenever you've got a few minutes you can take a quick bite.
The bites are not all "Googly", in fact I would guess most of them are based on other web sites. There are cameos from Craigslist, Amazon, Facebook and many more (along with some dishonorable mentions like AOL and Yahoo). The entire first chapter is dedicated to Dell and "Jarvis' First Law". In fact, that's a major criticism I have of this book... What Would Google Do? Seemed a lot more like What Would Jeff Jarvis Do at times. I almost get the feeling he thinks he invented the Internet.
Despite that criticism, I would give the first book 5 stars. It's fun, inspiring, and the discrete morsels make it a quick and easy read. Book two, on the other hand, lost the magic. It's simply a rehash of the first book with a gimmick: Jarvis applies the lessons of book one to various industries. It gets repetitive almost immediately. There's nothing particularly insightful just generic applications of the rules. His lack of innovation really shines in his confessed inability to apply the rules to lawyers.
That said, it is a little bit of fun to play the game with him in the second half. I'd give it three stars. Put them together and what do you get? Four stars. The little bites worked well in part one and fizzled in part two. The book never really came together for me... as I said in this review's title: I kept taking bites but never got a full meal....more info
- Googlejuice- Opens the World Of Possibilities
Jeff Jarvis descriptions of how Google impacts the world are fantastic. I am an avid internet user, part-time computer geek, and entrepreneur who never really understood the ramifications of Google searches, blogging and be relevant on the web.
I was introduced to a new term- "Googlejuice." Just term understand and be able to apply this term was worth the price of the book. I am now increasing my personal "Googlejuice" and my companies' "Googlejuice" because I undertand the value of doing so.
When I read a business book I feel that I got my money's worth if I walk away with just one idea that I implement in my life. WWGD got my blogs started after thinking about it for years.
If you live in the blogosphere, and your attention span has shrunk to fit, this may be the perfect book for you. If you think that "Googlethink" and "Googlejuice" are wonderfully descriptive terms, you'll feel right at home. But If you're looking for a real analysis of how Google approaches new business opportunities, whether driven by technology or market contingencies, then skip this. I learned more from today's New York Times article on "How Google Decides to Pull the Plug" than I did from this book....more info
- What Would (Or Did) Google Do?
What Would Google Do? by Jeff Jarvis is on one level an intriguing book; yet there is just a hint of sacrilege in the title. We remember the popular phrase of the 1990's, "What would Jesus do?" The implication of the title is that somehow Google is replacing God.
The quotes on the book jacket carry out this theme. It is a subtle implication that Google is more important than the mundane aspects of our human existence prior to Google. Chris Anderson says in a quote on the front (placing a quote on the front is very clever btw) that "Google is not just a company, it is an entire new way of thinking. Jarvis has done something really important . . . ." On the back of the jacket under the label "Praise for What Would Google Do?" the book is called "an exceptional book that captures the massive changes the internet is effecting in our culture." It is a "divining rod." The book is called the "work of a genuine visionary." Jarvis is the prophet of the economic future as directed by Google. This book is the guide for "real possibilities for your business in a new world."
When I open the book, I'm expecting something wonderful. There are grammatical errors -- pronouns without antecedents and "it's" instead of "its" -- to irritate the educated reader. There are daunting pages of words to work through. In spite of these problems, Mr. Jarvis has some brilliant observations.
In addition to explaining the way Google and similar programs will influence our future, there is helpful information on a practical level, such as discussions about Google adsense, Facebook, Netflix, Amazon, and Wikipedia. This book is definitely useful to show people how to navigate the waters of the new world of which he speaks.
I have a few questions. Why do we have to know Jeff Jarvis' political views in order to learn about Google? Why do we need this slant? Is this book what Google did? In other words, did Google "suggest" Jarvis write this book? ...more info
- Game Changer!
I love this book! it has absolutely changed the way that I view my own business and how I will shape our future direction. Jeff has written a true game changing book and I highly recommend this book to any business manager, executive, small business owner, student.... etc. Anyone who is open to how business is evolving now and how it will look in the not too distant future. Well done Jeff! I can not wait for more.......more info
- A great book about Google that isn't about Google
When I read the intro to the book, and the the intros to each chapter, I thought the author Jeff Jarvis was crazy, and that he wrote the book before the original dot-com bubble burst. But then as I read on, I was amazed at how well he championed his ideas, and actually converted me to hold a similar view on many of the topics he covers. The product description in the editorial review section of the book's product page gives an excellent summary; so I only will add my critiques.
One of the first things that struck me was if what he said about the power of the internet is true, half the world could be mad at me due to my pointing out some weaknesses in the book. But also, if the book is true, "Your worst customer is your best friend" in that if you address your customer's complaint publicly, you and the customer both benefit. So Jeff, when you write the second edition of this book, and incorporate some of my ideas, an autographed edition of it for me would be a nice gesture!
I paid special attention to how info in the book is organized, since Google is about organizing information, and a book about how to think like Google should be held to a pretty high standard. For the most part, it succeeds well. The index is quite thorough, and does not suffer from having 2 pages of index entries under "Google." As I read through the book, whenever I came across something I found interesting, I dog-eared the page, and also looked in the index to see if the topic was there; it always was, except for one term, "Mashup" which is a fairly important idea. The table of contents could use a little more indentation, and maybe even larger type size for the main divisions, and chapter names. As it currently is, the topics for each chapter tend to blend in with the chapter headings. He frequently refers to material in other chapters, such as on page 23:
... in the chapter, "The Googlemobile"
Well, that Chapter, in my mind, is a topic in a chapter and is just a bulleted item in Manufacturing chapter in the If Google Ruled the World section. And what would be even better, is if he gave the page number (" on page 172") in the text; the next-best thing to a hyper-link in a printed page. And document composition software has the easy ability to ensure the page number remains correct.
Now, some various positives. This was a very thought-provoking book. Jeff has plenty of credentials, both pre-web and post web, to make his opinion valuable. He carefully mentions any potential conflict of interest both in the first mention of the company, and in an appendix. He also includes how to contact him, and suggest updates or corrections to the work, and to engage him in conversation on it. He even inspired me to start a blog!
He gave very good examples of how thinking like Google can work, and will work. An example of a traditional newspaper has no need to have a golf writer on its staff; just link to a high-quality golf writer on the web.
Some problems is that he does get a little too enthused about how entire industries will become obsolete, and others changed drastically, but just as we aren't all driving spaceships to work yet, a world without advertising agencies isn't coming soon. His viewpoint at times is a bit too blog-centered variety of myopia. Not everyone has a blog, nor reads them on a regular basis.
He champions the customer and somewhat the workers for a company, as those whose inputs are king; but doesn't caution much about serious drawbacks there could be. Suppose customers of a radio station want no commercials all day long? Sounds great, until it comes time to pay the bills, with just half the revenue. However, the basic premise is absolutely true; listen to customers with complains, and try to improve your product to meet their needs, and they become your best advertisements. And the various treatments of different industries was very enlightening. One section on insurance seemed to not have too much organization; it was more like a cut 'n paste of some conversations from his blog, of which a lot of the _content_ was from the blog, and noted so, but it seemed to just flow poorly; a lot of jumbling of ideas.
Another irritant is the Googlefication (his adding a suffix of some kind) gets on the nerves; Googlejuice, Googlthink, Googlely, and Googlance makes me wonder if he's just trying to create some new buzz words; I'd google them but I'm afraid to!
He summarizes how Google has changed how all of us think; and it is indeed a profound change. I know I will look at things in both work and personal life that will improve my life and others....more info
- Rethinking Everything for Functioning in the Future
This is a great mind-twisting book that shows examples of rethinking everything in different ways, as well as laying out how the business world is changing. It is more than just an anecdote book. It is well organized around 40 well-illustrated principles about coming trends. It is more about the changes our business world is undergoing than about Google itself. For example, in "Middlemen are doomed" the role of middle men (agents) in the publishing world, and in real estate, is discussed along with the changing role of newspapers. Following that, there are 20 examples of applying rethought approaches to a number of different situations, for example, medical care and insurance, manufacturing, travel, etc.
One thing particularly enjoyable about this book is that it draws from many sources for thoughts and examples. In doing so, I am learning about a number of interesting bloggers and book authors that I had not yet encountered.
What is useful about this book is that it conveys the message of standing somewhere different and thinking differently about something that has been done in one way for far too long. Of course this book is only speaking in generalities -- it is not a user manual, and your task, should you choose to accept it, is to figure out how to apply this new perspective to whatever you are involved in. I found it an enjoyable mind-brightening book....more info
- Valuable Ideas, Highly Recommended
There are a good number of books out on the way of the web, how web thinking works, how it's applied and how it is changing the way we do business and even relate to each other. Jeff Jarvis does an exceptionally comprehensive and clear job describing these ideas.
While the title is about Google, and much of the book characterizes the models, approaches, philosophies and strategies of Google, Jarvis also discusses other major movers and shakers on the web, using examples that demonstrate the way things are being done.
If you are in business- on the web or off, the ideas Jarvis describes can help you. If you are a web entrepreneur or in some way dealing with getting your company on the web, this book is an excellent one that sums up many of the ideas of its predecessors on the crowd, wikis, etc.
Besides providing a lot of useful information, Jarvis describes the ideas, processes, approaches, etc. in readable language you don't have to be a technogeek to understand....more info
- So very 2003
I had high hopes for this book, but by the time I had finished it I wondered what new thing Jeff Jarvis had brought to the table. I concluded, not much. Most of what he says about the "Google Way" is true, but it's been beaten to death in the business press for the last 10 years -- disintermediation, niches, transparency and collaboration with customers -- all developments of the internet age, but certainly at this point not new. At best, this is a rehash.
In the second part of the book, Jarvis tries to imagine a variety of industries and what they would look like if they adopted "Google" principles. There are some interesting ideas here, especially for such unreconstructed "atom-based" industries as automobile manufacturing, soft drinks, etc. And we all agree I'm sure that insurance, banking, and medicine could do with a large dose of digital deconstruction.
But in the end the book is thin, the execution of its central idea rather dilettantish, and the name-dropping obtrusive. Stylistically it suffers from that special strain of mouth-diarrhea that appears to be born of blogging. The professor should have approached this with a good deal more intellectual rigor, and resisted the temptation to write an Entertainment Weekly puff piece....more info
- The kind of book you feel bad for liking
There are a whole lot of things that I dislike about this book: the one-sidedness (Google knows all and is always right), the lack of continuity (he presents rules, but every case study is a collection of exceptions), the bloginess of the writing, the pompousness of the author to brag about projects he coordinated and programs his son has authored in each and every chapter, and so on.
His ideas are probably quite insane to implement for the majority of businesses, particularly in the last half of the book where he breaks down industries like insurance and airlines and discusses their ability to grow in new "googley" ways. It's a joke to think that airlines will suddenly see a resurgence in popularity if they implement a seat-bartering system or an in-flight chat room, or if insurance companies were to be completely regulated by families, friends and internet acquaintances working together in small groups (just a few of the laughable suggestions he has for these industries).
But I liked it. And I almost feel dirty for liking it.
This isn't a really great book. However, the personality of the author shines through, and I did learn something, although I have difficulty clarifying how I'm actually going to use it. The rules for doing business online have changed a great deal, but I think it's apples to oranges to stretch them as much as he has. This book gives you some insight into that, and to some of the many changes that could be coming in the future, and he spouts off an impressive list of internet resources along the way (many of which I've bookmarked and have been investigating as I read this).
This is much less a book about "what would Google do" as it is a book about "how web 2.0 will change the future". Sure, Google is a big part of that, but as the author seems to have realized, Digg, Facebook, Amazon and millions of other resources are a major part of this as well. He mentions them about as much as Google (and almost as many times as he mentions how much money he's making on the book, or has made throughout his career, or how great of a programmer his son is).
If you're looking for a light read and an introduction into the whole "Web 2.0" mentality, then this is probably a good book to get. Don't expect much, but enjoy it. ...more info
- In the tank for Google
Or, to riff on Jarvis' own take on Dell, mentioned early in the book:
"Jeff Jarvis S***CKS."
This books is basically nothing but uncritical Google-olotry, as shown by the errors Jarvis makes in just his seven introduction pages.
1. Google's alleged customer service? Google's Blogger blogs get no more customer service than Microslob offers on Outlook/Outlook Express.
2. Related to that, through things such as Chrome, Google Docs, cloud computing, Google IS the new Microslob in many ways. Jarvis completely ignores that.
3. Related to THAT, Jarvis laughably claims that Google AdSense lets you be "part of Google." Jeez, just how much has Google brainwashed him? Instead, Google's ever more closely monitoring his Google searches, etc., and targeting ads to that end. (Do a fake Google search at least once a week to screw Google up, is my suggestion.)
4. Jarvis ignores the multiplicity of Google business flops of the past, which are well-documented elsewhere.
Beyond that, Jarvis is a name-dropper, etc. Read other one- and two-star reviewers for more....more info
- Get ready to take notes, it's packed with info
I read two to three books a week. That's gone on for the last 20-plus years. It's past being a habit. I do work, but I simply must have my reading time to sleep. So...when I got out of bed, grabbed a notebook and a pen, I knew something was different. I haven't taken so many notes from a book since college. That is not hype!
I was overwhelmed with VERY practical information on using the internet for business. Every page hit me with a new concept that I doubt I ever would have encountered outside this book. I am currently writing a business plan and am using the SBA folks to help me. THEY didn't even come close to presenting me with this much material.
I guess someone could argue that it is "too" packed. Too much information to be useful. The counter-argument is: It's a book. You can put it down and rest. You don't have to digest it in one browsing session during your lunch break.
The pun on WWJD aside (and so, the feelings of those who may find this title mocking), WWGD is outstanding.
It is well-written. It reads like a novel. It's not for the beginner, but doesn't over-complicate matters. It's overwhelming, but at the same time, indescribably and somehow, not overwhelming. Jeff Jarvis (and I'm sure his editors) have done an amazing job at communicating some really great business concepts using mostly free tools/ideas.
- Reinforce your understanding of Web 2.0
Although the word Google is in the title, it is really not about Google but about the new way of doing business that made Google a spectacular success. No one can tell you how Google truly functions or its vision and plan better than Google. If that was what you wanted to learn you would have gone to the source. Most of the ideas here are not new but it does not hurt to view them somewhat unified in a quick reading book. I read about the Dell Hell issues and about Jeff Jarvis so it was very interesting to hear from him how that came about and influenced Dell's behavior. Blogs are important as are customer reviews but they are not substitute for one's own judgment. If I had read the reviews of this book before I read it, I might have been negatively influenced. But I am glad I did not. If you are well versed in these issues that Jeff talks about (Social Media, the free concept, blogs and their value, joining the conversations that your customers are having etc), the book might not have any thing new to teach you but if you are not, it does. That is a judgment the reader should make. I hope reviewers would consider this before they trash a book. Jarvis says the free is a good business model which makes sense to me and that may be why i read it over coffee at a book store - Free....more info
- Read this book and learn
Google reached number 33 on the Forbes list of the fastest growing companies in 2008 while spending no money on traditional advertisement. In this brilliant and timely book, Jeff Jarvis shows how Google technology and business approach have changed traditional business practices not only in their own domain but also in countless information-driven domains outside of Google's immediate scope.
Jeff's book has three parts. The first part presents Google's philosophy in a set of rules, which in principle could be applied to any business sector, but which works exceptionally well in domains with vast amount of information, dependency on search engine results, and participants' ability to affect the results of the search. Information is, of course, defined recursively as new data and links to other information.
For instance, traditional advertisement ignores new ad economics because of a conflict of interest inherent in their position: their compensation is proportional to the advertising money they spend. The scarcer the ad, the more it costs; the more it costs, the more agencies spend; the more they spend, the more they earn. The internet, on the other hand, is a more efficient, more effective, and better measurable advertising medium. Most importantly, it's abundant. So, forget about making money by controlling production, distribution, and marketing. That's a game of diminishing returns. The new sources of value creation are revelation (finding content), aggregation, and plasticity (extending content). In the new architecture, facilitated with link, search, and blogs, everyone can speak and yet all can hear. No need to serve the majority of a mass. Anybody can now serve masses of niches. So your customers become your new ad agencies, you must make it easy for them to promote you, and listening to your customers becomes the most perfect marketing.
Jeff goes on to applying these laws in the second part of the book to a long list of business sectors, including media, advertising, retail, utilities, manufacturing, healthcare, financial services, public welfare, etc. The final part focuses on social implications of the new power structure, dramatically democratized by Google's solutions.
Do you want to learn how can you act as a platform? Understand what can others build on top of it? Figure out how can to get others to contribute to the network and get a share of their value?
Read this book and learn.
Yuval Lirov Medical Billing Networks and Processes - Profitable and Compliant Revenue Cycle Management in the Internet Age...more info
- A must read for every business owner
This book is a must-read for business owners or managers who want to understand how Google has become such a dominant player and provides ideas and suggestions for how to apply these strategies in other businesses. After reading this book, it completely changed the way that I saw my own business model. I'm now working on a whole new strategy to leverage some of the ideas I gleaned from the Mr. Jarvis. Great job!...more info
- What would Google do? Charge nothing. Make it up in volume. Literally.
An outdated business joke has become an economic reality:
First Salesman: "We lose money on every sale."
Second Salesman: "How do you do it without going out of business?"
First Salesman: "We make it up in volume."
In an economy fueled by social networks, data and technology, companies that want to thrive need to replace questions like `HOW MUCH can we make from each transaction?' with questions like `HOW LITTLE can we charge and still get by?'
According to Jeff Jarvis, author of What Would Google Do?, businesses that rely on the formerly-reliable `law of supply & demand' to guide financial strategies are likely to fail in today's economy. Why? Scarcity doesn't ensure value. IF ANYTHING, it attracts a wide field of competitors striving to underprice you and deliver your once-scare commodity faster.
"Scarcity was about control: those who controlled a scare resource could set the price for it. Not anymore,"Jarvis said. "Google has found a business model based on creating , exploiting and managing abundance. The more content there is for it to organize, and the more places there are for it to place ads, the better."
Read the rest of the review here: [...]
- Thought provoking first section, irritating second
I'll be brief, as most reviews already summarize the book.
I own an ecommerce website that's been around for 8 years and is always looking for new ways to innovate. I understand the importance of Google's search results, being "Googly," and thinking progressively about web strategy. And I'm always looking to learn more.
I picked this book up at the airport two days ago and read the first half on the flight. I was inspired, jotting down notes about releasing secrets, making the user experience easier, and standing back and letting the community take control. The first half of the book, you see, is full of practical advice, albeit a bit repetitive and poorly structured.
In the second half of the book, Jarvis applies his understanding of Google's guiding principles to a wide variety of industries. These were much more hypothetical and thus, not very interesting to me. In fact, I got bored--I felt like I was overhearing conversation at a Silicon Valley dinner party with a bunch of wiseguys. Pass the Merlot...
My biggest problem with the second half of the book concerns his revamping of the book industry. He suggests basically that in a Google world, atoms and "things" are dead, and we all read online in a collaborative environment. Not only is it more environmental, cheaper, and faster, but the end product -- the information -- is improved through interactions with your community. The information will be free, but, (following earlier rules), the author will be compensated through other channels, usually advertising. I get it.
But then he admits that he contradicts himself by, of course, putting out a book on the subject of the post-book world. He's done this precisely because his dream world doesn't exist -- or at least the economics of it don't work... yet.
I can't quite get over this point. How am I supposed to take advice from somebody who is not willing to follow his own?
I appreciate the valuable ideas presented in the first half of the book. If only he followed his own vision and allowed us to purchase only the chapters we found useful. ...more info
- Ideas on Taking Web 2.0 to the fullest
Jeff Jarvis attempts to inspire new ways of looking at the opportunities that the web provides for business across vertical markets. He addresses the criticalness of the networks and that people are the reason anyone is in business, and the web is where people are today.
Neatly crafted in short, quick hitting chapters, 'What Would Google Do' leads you step by step through ideas and ways to improve your ability to deliver to customers, whether it is information or a product. Anyone from the individual wishing to make an extra buck or two using a blog site to the major corporate marketing department would learn from this very insightful book. Now, of course this is not for every product, but for most B2C type ventures, Jarvis has ideas companies should explore.
Jarvis has experience to back up what he is saying. He is not telling us what Google does, but really, what we can do with Google as a model, using Google related methodology and as an opportunity. For instance, if you have a magazine or newspaper article, he mentions using Google search as your starting point for a title for your 'online version' of the article. For instance, an article title that may get attention in a newspaper, may need to be much more sterile to get the traffic you need and/or want on the web since Google may not catch the reference in the title to the subject being addressed.
Great for the business library and a must with the growth of Web 2.0. To take yourself and business to the next level, get What Would Google Do?. ...more info
- A brilliant, thought provoking, model changing MUST READ!
By page 20 I was revising my entire business model. This book states the raw facts about yesterday, today, and tomorrow. You the reader have to decide how these facts impact you, and what actions to take. I have read several of the negative or weak reviews of this book and am shocked at the stupidity, jealousy, and reader envy of the naysayers -- IGNORE THEM. They're the same people that look at price before value, and have no concept of serving customers to make a profit. Buy this book as fast as you can, and use the model of Google to the benefit of your company, your customers, and you. I did. Jeffrey Gitomer author of The Little Red Book of Selling....more info
- Good content if you get past Jarvis' style
"What Would Google Do?" is a provocative title because Jarvis knows Google is unlikely to do many, if any, of the things he writes about. Things like run a bank, build cars or get involved in hospitals and insurance. What he tries to do is get at the essence of what has made Google successful, and use that to hypothesize how Google's terms of engagement could be applied to other industries. Interesting...
When I was an economics student I learned there were only four engines of prosperity and wealth:
1. Arbitrage: The classic buy low/sell high, either across time, across space or between different buyers' perceptions of value.
2. Compound growth: Reinvesting your winnings, no matter how modest, and letting exponential growth provide you with a healthy return.
3. Leverage: Borrowing to maximize the returns compared to the capital invested.
4. Value Enhancement: Addling labor, capital or marketing to a product to improve its value in the market place. What most of us do by going to work and laboring for wages and salaries.
Jarvis says that in the new market place all that has changed. Google has made "free" into a business model, and encouraged us to make money by "getting out of the way".
In reality, what Google has done is removed one of the most significant barriers to a free market: getting perfect or near-perfect knowledge to consumers at near zero cost. In the old economy one of the reasons people made a lot of money in the four ways above was because they had access to knowledge at a cost most couldn't attain. They knew where to invest, where to leverage, how to add value and where the best price differentials were. Google changes all that. Google commodifies everything and enables everyone equal access to all parts of the market at the lowest visible cost.
The book is in two parts. First, Jarvis sets out new business realities in a world where instantaneous knowledge is near perfect and near free. Second, Jarvis looks at specific industries and speculates on what they would look like if they were run in a way that takes most advantage of the new business realities.
Here are a couple of examples. "Atoms are a drag" and so in the new world businesses should try to be as virtual as possible. Avoid buildings, trucks and stock in your business...manufacture just in time to meet consumer demands, and distribute using existing infrastructure that you access at the lowest possible cost. This is the model Amazon uses for selling and distributing books and many other goods, and it works. "Answers are instantaneous" so your consumer responsiveness better be lightening fast. "Everything is searchable" so you had better be transparent, honest and capable of recovering from your mistakes.
One of the most significant areas of analysis in the book is the section on ethics. The message seems to be that when everything you do is searchable and visible to all you better be good. Although the approach is very pragmatic and utilitarian it nevertheless encourages all business people to be honest, open, collaborative and self-regulating. Not a bad admonishment for businesses everywhere.
I like this book largely because of the second half. It's interesting to look at how Jarvis envisions Google running retail: responsive, collaborative, and virtual. In Jarvis world restaurants would aggregate all the information available about who orders what with what, and use it to offer you specials, discounts and wine/food pairings based on your tastes and the tastes of the people you emulate. Airlines get out of the business of "moving atoms" and get into being a social marketplace where people can exchange travel options. Car companies collaborate with consumers to produce vehicles people really want, (a purple electric SUV with DVDs, a child's high chair and no stereo for example).
Jarvis personal style is a little irritating. I learned too much about how much he earns, how successful his meetings are at Davos and what it's like to run an internet community of his devoted fans. Still, the book has many valuable insights into doing business in a modern economy. It's worth it just for the great chapters on "If Google ruled the world".
- Building open platforms
There are two broad sections to the book: analysis of what made Google successful, followed by Jeff Jarvis's take on applying these principles to a wide variety of existing business models. If you're a web-based entrepreneur, or work in the publishing industry the first section is a must read - Jeff Jarvis nails the platform vs. content model.
WWGD attempts to extract a number of core principles, and many startups can learn from Google's approach to the web: empower and connect your users, bring elegant organization to existing communities, don't build walled gardens. Highly recommended.
The latter part of the book is an interesting attempt to match the WWGD principles to existing businesses: restaurants, car dealership, healthcare, and so forth. At times the arguments are spread thin, which goes to show that not every business will benefit from the WWGD philosophy. In fact, Apple is the antithesis of WWGD principles (openness vs secretive, platform vs proprietary) and Jeff Jarvis could have done a better job of analyzing and addressing the differences.
Overall, a recommended read....more info
- We All Know Google Is Great, So Now What?
There's this example What Would Google Do? where Jarvis talks about how newspapers could respond to Huffington Post setting up a new blogging venture in Chicago. He basically says that they should become their new best friend - forget that they are competition and think long term. They'd get more out of magnanimity than being territorial.
But, he concludes, it doesn't matter because "news organizations don't yet think that way." The thing is, no one does. People, like Marcus Aurelius said, are "meddling, ungrateful, arrogant, dishonest, jealous and surly." We shouldn't be surprised when they act that way.
The benefits of being open minded, collaborative, honest, and helpful are not new. We've been extolling those virtues since Aesop. Or on Google's business end, being scalable, keeping overhead low, treating your customers like partners, pocketing less value than you create. Those are the basic, bedrock fundamentals of business.
My point is that we already know all that stuff is good. Awareness isn't the problem. Children know that you shouldn't be evil. We don't need to praise it anymore. What we should be discussing is how to practice it.
The book itself falls into the gap between knowing and doing. Jeff misses a very teachable lesson at the juncture where he is mature enough to admit that it's sort of contradictory to take the most old school way of publishing his idea - advance from a major publishing house, syndicate part of the book in a magazine right at the release date, etc. His words: Sorry. Dogs got to eat.
Right. Welcome to reality. Where we all live. Where some entertainment companies would probably do innovative things but are tied to crazy artists. Or, companies controlled by petty bosses or signed leases or long term contracts or institutional inertia. The problem isn't that they haven't asked the right rhetorical question. If doing what Google does was easy, they'd have already done it. Since it's hard, they haven't.
This book and books like it lack concreteness. What would Google do is a great question. It's a wonderful title for a book. But it's not well served by 250 pages of proof that it's the right one to ask. We know this. Our collective wisdom knows this.
So what specifically makes Google able to ignore the barriers that trip other people up? How do they keep the instinct to be surly, meddling, dishonest and jealous from taking over? How can people put the brakes on a direction they know is conflict with their long term goals? In other words, we're trying to solve organizational problem with psychological treatments and it's never going to work. WWGD? has all sort of great examples of good - as in not evil - decisions that Google and other companies have made. What is doesn't have is much introspection as to how they fought the resistance towards making it.
I'd really like to read a book that doesn't think the solution lies in more talking. If you were to suggest one of the ideas in the book where you work nobody would tell you it was stupid - they'd just say "it's not realistic." THAT is where we need pages. Not to say Jeff's book isn't good (it is), it's just not what it could be. It's lame to treat all this as some revelation because it's not. It should be a starting off point. ...more info
- More clarity on the electronic age than I have seen elsewhere
I've had a hard time making sense of everything that's going on with the advance of the new media. Jarvis does a better job of clarifying what's happening than anything else I've read. I can't say that I've read a lot, but if you're like me (no time to become an expert myself), I think you'll find "WWGD?" very illuminating. Now other people's stuff makes more sense to me. I needed someone to give me the overall picture....more info