Jeff Jarvis, What Would Google Do? (New York: HarperCollins, 2009), 257pp.
"Who could have imagined," asks tech guru Jeff Jarvis (buzzmachine.com), "that a free classified service could have had a profound and permanent effect on the entire newspaper industry, that kids with cameras and internet connections could gather larger audiences than cable networks could, that loners with keyboards could bring down politicians and companies, and that dropouts could build companies worth billions?" But so it is, as Google in particular, and a host of other internet companies like Craigslist, Flickr, Wikipedia, Amazon and Digg have shown.
Companies like these are the great "disrupters" of business as usual. If they are lucky, says Jarvis, some companies can be reformed; others, though, will simply cease to exist because they didn't understand the new rules of the road. "It is hard to name an industry or institution — advertisers, airlines, retailers, auto makers, auto dealers, consumer-product brands, computer companies, fashion designers, telephone companies, cable operators, political candidates, government leaders, university educators — that should not be asking: What would Google do?"
Actually, if you want the short version of this thesis, Jarvis points readers to Google's own website and "Ten things Google has found to be true". His own blog at buzzmachine.com makes it even easier with "Five Steps to a Googlier You." In the first half of his book Jarvis expands on the ten ways and means of Googlification. Forget the mass, discover a niche. Link unto others as you would have them link unto you. Be searchable. Customers are your advertising agency and marketing department. Speed matters. In the second half of his book he applies Googlethink to twenty or so business arenas, from newspapers and real estate agents to education and insurance.
I liked Jarvis best when he told personal stories. Later in the book his breathless boosterism and romantic view of all things Googley grew stale. But one thing is sure — Googlize asap or get left in the dust. If you don't know where to begin, swallow your pride and ask your teenager.