This book review is a bit different from the standard format, since I rarely review audiobooks, preferring instead the dead tree versions that can be highlighted, underscored and more easily summarized. And I did listen to Jeff Jarvis' new internet classic, What Would Google Do?, as an audiobook from Audible.com (courtesy of Grammar Girl's promotion). That means no scanning the TOC for basic organization, no thumbing back through the pages in order to pull out the underlined bits.
However, since much of what Jarvis outlined did resonate and should be passed on, I did Tweet my impressions as I read along. Yup. Like this, all with the #wwgd hashtag and with a note to @jeffjarvis:
So here are the Tweets of the most relevant points Jarvis made so well, broadly categorized:
How people relate to media and interaction
- People put themselves at the center if their me-spheres, and they expect you to come to them
- Don't "start a community"; bring an existing one "elegant organization"
How to situate your business in the trust economy
- Make the move from mass to niche
- Ask yourself: what business are you really in?
- Trust is a mutual relationship of transparency and sharing
- The more you control, the less you are trusted
- How do you determine what is interesting to your customers? Use metrics and measure behavior, not guesses.
How to approach change, turmoil and innovation
- New ethic: make mistakes well
- Cash flow can blind you to the strategic necessity if change
- If you enable people to follow their passions, they'll as much as work for free
How people absorb information
- Mass media has become a mass of niches.
- (I'm a little put off by @jeffjarvis' admiration of Howard Stern)
- Books are like a British accent: everything sounds smarter in them, even if it isn't.
- 70% of adults have not been in a bookstore in 5 yrs.
- The medium is the message, and the customer is the new medium
- Serve your niche instead of the mass.
What fears lurk
- Privacy isn't the issue; control is (with respect to personal disclosure in social media).
Jarvis spends most of the book stressing making the move from mass to niches, focusing on innovation, and on the value of free as a business model, with plentiful examples. The last few chapters are imaginations of the Googlification of various industries: real estate, construction, law, most of which had me shaking my head in incredulity and a healthy dose of skepticism. (Personally, I think good realtors do deserve what they're paid; a home sale is a complicated thing and can't be returned like a Dell computer if it doesn't work as represented.) Those last few chapters had far less relevance for me than the main thesis of the book.
What about you? Have you read it? What did you think? And what are you reading next?