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What Would Google Do? Hardcover – 5 Feb 2009

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Collins (5 Feb. 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007312105
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007312108
  • Product Dimensions: 15.9 x 2.4 x 24 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 237,801 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"[Jarvis] is an intelligent observer of technology and the media and has intellectual scruples.... [T]here are lessons to be learnt from Google and its single-minded determination to change how business is done."--Financial Times

From the Back Cover

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.

What Would Google Do? is an astonishing, mind-opening book that, in the end, is not about Google. It’s about you.

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Mark Pack TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 28 Oct. 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The title of Jeff Jarvis's What Would Google Do? book is a deliberate echo of the American phrase, "What would Jesus do?" Whilst for Christians asking what Jesus would do in particular situations makes sense, does Google have a similar role of authority over everyone's business lives for Jeff Jarvis's question to make sense?

At first, it may appear that the answer is obvious. Google is hugely successful. Google is very different from many companies that have gone before. Lots of firms talk about wanting to be the next Google. Google makes lots of money. Google has lots of users. And so on. So surely trying to learn from Google makes sense?

But probe into that question more deeply and the situation is rather more complicated.

First, there's the traditional outlier issue. Google is unusually large and profitable. So is it a rare exception from which the rest of us therefore cannot learn that much or is it really the path-breaker for the rest of us to follow?

Second, there's the question of permanence. There have been many firms who have briefly been top of the pile, widely admired and the focus of numerous books telling people how to be like them. In the computing and internet area, there have been several waves with the previous dominant companies usually disappearing from the scene. Microsoft is highly unusual in having stayed on top for so long. IBM and Apple both soared and crashed and soared again. All three in their different ways have stood the test of time, whilst Google is sitll a relative newbie. So if you want to learn lessons for the future, why not turn to Microsoft, IBM and Apple instead or at least in addition to Google?

Therein lie both the best and the most frustrating aspects of Jeff Jarvis's book.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By David Bowers on 9 April 2010
Format: Hardcover
In this book Jeff Jarvis attempts to dissect why Google has become the fastest growing company in the history of the planet. He studies their laws and ethos and then applies it to other industries, showing how they can `googlify' themselves for the post internet world. To many extents this book succeeds, except for a couple of major failings.

I regularly listen to Jeff on Leo Laporte's Twit (This Week in Tech) network which is worth seeking out if you're not aware of it, where he shows he is the right author for this book. He has years of experience in the entertainment and internet industry and has a deep understanding of Google's methods.

I had high hopes for this title, that I would walk away enlightened, with new business ideas. I did. However I'm not as sure of them as I perhaps should be. You see Jeff explains why `everything should be searchable and linkable', why `you can't beat free', why `atoms are the old method, internet is the new'. So why is Jeff publishing this as a book, not a free, advert supported eBook or a website? Money, that's why. He says it himself in the book. So if you can't practice what you preach (and it's very preachy), why should I believe your other advice Jeff? Is your book not available free online because that method doesn't work? Because it isn't viable?

Jeff talks about web content and how the mass of niches will beat the old system - being able to find what you want rather than being told. Which is accurate, but he largely ignores the argument of quality over quantity, that the mass of niches will only work if great content is produced and wins out. For the most part he ignores that the reason Google succeeds is because they make great quality products for free. How many people can afford to do that?
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer TOP 500 REVIEWER on 23 Oct. 2009
Format: Hardcover
Let me start off with stressing that I think this is an interesting book and I'm very happy to have read it. There are undoubtedly some great and even necessary observations on customer relations, business strategies etc. for the current market; We should think distributed instead of central, listen to the customers instead of claiming to be all-knowing, accept that customers have a free will and do not like to be categorised and mass-marketed, be a platform others can build upon, not underestimate the power of the individual and their relations, realise that the middleman's days are over and that stuff sucks etc. - all good and - for the most part - pretty sound advice and something many business owners could do with learning.

BUT I also think there are some problems with the book:

1/ I don't actually feel I know more about Google the company after reading it. Yes, I know how successful, huge, popular, innovative, brave, etc. it is and the fantastic products it has either launched or purchased and allowed people to develop to become the mastodont it now is and I have the greatest respect for that and I absolutely love some of their products, but when Jeff Jarvis talks about how companies should be transparent to their customers/users, does that really apply to Google? There are a lot of questions I am sure people would like to ask the company and which are not answered here - e.g. what exactly does Google do/intend to do with the information it gathers about its users? We put a lot of trust in one organisation to handle all this information with care and without doing evil.

2/ I am not comfortable with the author being so obviously pro Google and rather uncritical in some (many) of his statements.
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