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What Would Google Do?
|I got my hands on an early copy of Jeff Jarvis's What Would Google Do?
It's full of ideas, and it's perfectly timed for the economic storm
we're experiencing right now. The way Jarvis sees it, most of our
industries and institutions developed in a time of information
constraints. People made money or acheived power, whether in
publishing, banking, insurance or education, by leveraging the
information they had access to. They profited from scarcity.
in the age of Google and the Internet, is no longer scarce. It no
longer takes time to travel from one place to another. Knowledge no
longer requires the movement of atoms. Our brains are linked. That is
the revolution Jarvis describes. Of course, we've all been aware of
these changes brewing since the dawn of the Internet. But Jarvis does a
very good job pulling it all together. Readers of his BuzzMachine.com
blog will be familiar with many of his arguments, from his push for
transparancy, links and "publicness" to "small is the new big." But the book
forces him to synthesize more than on the blog, and to tie these phenomena together.
was at work on this book before our economy dive-bombed. But as I
mentioned, our economic situation makes the book more relevant, not
less. This economy is on its way to tearing down the inefficient
structures built in the age of scarce
information. Understanding and adapting to the forces he describes are
no longer simply competitive issues. For many--journalism and
publishing are front and center--it's a matter of survival.
might add here that the Numerati are leading actors
in this drama. The information revolution he describes creates the
rivers of data they feed on. And there are no bigger Numerati on earth
than the triumvirate running Google, a company entirely built on the analysis of data and the statistical correlations between what we're looking for and the advertisements most likely to interest us.)
in Jarvis's book, is a number of things. It's an extraordinary company
managed for a new type of innovation; it's a resource providing the
closest thing we've yet seen to the keys to knowledge; it's a business
based on providing valuable services for free; it's also a metaphor for
the broader phenomenon of the networked world.
Given the current
circumstances, I wish Jarvis had chosen another name for the book. I
suspect that some people will view it as another book on highflying
Google--whose stock has fallen $300 from its high. Given the mess we're
in, and the lessons Jarvis has to teach, I think a more appropriate
title might be "Survival."
(Disclosure: Jeff Jarvis is a
friend of mine. We eat lunch every few months. At one of those lunches,
in my favorite Usbeki-Kosher joint on 47th Street, he asked me my
opinion of his working title, WWGD. I told him that I didn't now what those initials stood for. He told me it was a reference to WWJD, which stands for What Would Jesus Do? That was news to me.)
Below: Jarvis discussing the book.
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