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What Would Google Do? [Hardcover]

Jeff Jarvis
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)

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Book Description

2 Feb 2009

What’s the question every business should be asking itself? According to Jeff Jarvis, it’s WHAT WOULD GOOGLE DO? If you’re not thinking or acting like Google – the fastest-growing company in the history of the world – then you’re not going to survive, let alone prosper, in the Internet age.

An indispensable manual for survival and success that asks the most important question today’s leaders, in any industry, can ask themselves: What would Google do?

To demonstrate how to emulate Google, Jarvis lays out his laws of what he calls “the new Google century,” including such insights as:

Think Distributed
Become a Platform
Join the Post-Scarcity, Open-Source, Gift Economy
The Middleman Has Died
Your Worst Customers Are Your Best Friends and Your Best Customers Are Your Partners
Do What You Do Best and Link to the Rest
Get Out of the Way
Make Mistakes Well
… and More

He applies these principles not just to emerging technologies and the Internet, but to other industries–telecommunications, airlines, television, government, healthcare, education, journalism, and yes, book publishing–showing ultimately what the world would look like if Google ran it. The result is an astonishing, mind-opening book that will change the way readers ask questions and solve problems.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Collins (2 Feb 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061709719
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061709715
  • Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 15.9 x 2.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,188,624 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


“Google is not just a company, it is an entirely new way of thinking about understanding who we are and what we want. Jarvis has done something really important: extend that approach to business and culture, revealing just how revolutionary it is.” (Chris Anderson, Author of The Long TailChris Anderson, author of The Long Tail)

“What Would Google Do? is an exceptional book that captures the massive changes the internet is effecting in our culture, in marketing, and in advertising.” (Craig Newmark, Founder of craigslist)

“Jeff Jarvis has written an indispensable guide to the business logic of the networked era, because he sees the opportunities in giving the people control, and understands the risks in letting your competitors get there first.” (Clay Shirky, Author of Here Comes Everybody)

“Jeff Jarvis’s What Would Google Do? is a divining rod for anyone looking for ways to hit real paydirt in the new territory of Web 2.0 marketing. Jarvis has a sharp eye for what is relevant, real, and actionable. Isn’t that what we all need today?” (Marc Benioff, Chairman and CEO, salesforce.com)

“Most of Jarvis’s points—about customer influence, user-driven innovation, the death of middlemen—are by now axiomatic. And yet he manages to make the revolution feel newly revolutionary. . . . the book exudes credibility.” (Inc.)

“[Jarvis’s] bold thinking and prodigious faith results in a rollicking sermon on reinvention and reinvigoration.” (Miami Herald)

“[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)

“Jarvis, proprietor of the influential media blog BuzzMachine, gleans maxims from Google’s successful strategies that occasionally sound like doublespeak (Free is a business model! Abundance is the new scarcity! Correcting yourself enhances credibility!). But they boil down to practical suggestions.” (Time magazine)

“Blogger/columnist Jeff Jarvis’s treatise on how—and why—companies should think and act like Google brings to mind several trite words from the world of literary criticism: eye-opening, thought-provoking and enlightening.” (USA Today)

“[Jarvis’s] observations are worth reading....We’re never going to unplug the Internet, so read this book with the long view in mind. Mr. Jarvis’s rules don’t all apply to you, but they’re all true enough for someone” (Wall Street Journal)

“For those who haven’t thought much about how radically, rapidly and irreversibly the Internet has empowered us and changed our culture, “What Would Google Do?” by Jeff Jarvis will be revelatory. It is a stimulating exercise in thinking really, really big. “ (San Jose Mercury News) --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars What would Jeff Jarvis do? 9 April 2010
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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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Wrong question but interesting answers 28 Oct 2010
By Mark Pack TOP 1000 REVIEWER
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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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Slightly disappointed 23 Oct 2009
By Amazon Customer TOP 1000 REVIEWER
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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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Practical and Insighful Advice of how to leverage the best of Google's...
A brilliant and insightful book. Not only does Jarvis take a fresh approach to understanding how google operate and are successful, he does it in a way that is practical and makes... Read more
Published 6 days ago by Tim Evans
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Some interesting points of view and ideas but its a bit "full of itself".
Published 1 month ago by Steve W
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential for internet business lovers
Although I read it in Spanish and the translation was horrible (do not read in Spanish, trust me) the book is really good. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Manuel
5.0 out of 5 stars Good!
V. Good!
Published 2 months ago by Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars I think he is on the right track here
I picked up this book and became more impressed the more I read. Jarvis, who was unknown to me grows on you and makes good sense. Read more
Published 5 months ago by R. W. Bromley
4.0 out of 5 stars Thoughy provoking,
A very interesting read, helping me jump to new levels of innovation although not every product in the world can be subsidised with advertising and it idolises Google too much.
Published 10 months ago by pete
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book.
Wonderful read. Very good story and exceptionally well written. You will remember the lessons and philosophy from Jeff Jarvis for many years to come.
Published 13 months ago by D. Girvan
5.0 out of 5 stars He knows all about social networks and puts it into into perspective...
It was not what I expected but I really enjoyed it. I listen to jeff on all about andriod, which is where I found out about it.
Published 16 months ago by Stephan Powell
1.0 out of 5 stars Nowhere near as good as I expected
I had high expectations from the title but found the book a big disappointment. In the end I struggled to finish it
Published 19 months ago by andrew dennahy
4.0 out of 5 stars An interesting insight into Google and the like!
Although I started reading WWGD for a university course, I found the book very interesting and am constantly recommending it to others. Read more
Published 21 months ago by Katie
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