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Gutenberg the Geek (Kindle Single) Kindle Edition

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Length: 20 pages Word Wise: Enabled
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Who was the original world-changing techno-entrepreneurial innovator? Not Google's Larry and Sergey. Not Steve Jobs. No, to find the man who made the mold, you've got to go back to fifteenth-century Germany to find Johannes Gutenberg. Jarvis portrays the famed inventor as creator of more than just the printing press and the market for Bibles. "Gutenberg," he argues, "should… be seen as the patron saint of Silicon Valley, for he used technology to create an industry." Setting Gutenberg's successes against the real pitfalls he endured, notably his early struggle to amass sufficient capital, Jarvis portrays a bad-boy innovator with a deft, if sometimes heavy hand. He bravely wears his assumptions-- for example, the neutrality of technology-- on his sleeve, and his lesson for techno-dreamers is straightforward. Read your history, Jarvis insists. "Your goal, geeks, is to be more like Gutenberg." --Jason Kirk

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Product Details

  • File Size: 125 KB
  • Print Length: 20 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publication Date: February 27, 2012
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B007EI62I0
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #152,526 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

Jeff Jarvis is the proprietor of one of the Web's most popular and respected blogs about the internet and media, Buzzmachine.com. He also writes the new media column for the Guardian in London. He was named one of 100 worldwide media leaders by the World Economic Forum at Davos in 2007 and 2008, and he was the creator and founding editor of Entertainment Weekly. He is on the faculty of the City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism in New York City.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

39 of 40 people found the following review helpful By Walter Reade on February 28, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition
I listen to Jeff Jarvis every week on the "This Week in Google" podcast. He drives me crazy 80% of the time. But, he's worth listening to the other 20%. Jeff is not afraid to think. He is not afraid to weave narratives and create hypotheses from observations from the modern world and from the world of history. He has a relentless habit of extracting meaning from events and trends, and expressing it is ways that make me think.

Gutenberg the Geek is a wonderful example of Jeff's style of thinking. The "Kindle Single" is worth reading simply as a summary of the life and accomplishment of Gutenberg. It is an important reminder to us how Gutenberg worked for years to achieve what he did. He didn't wake up and invent the printing press. He perfected his craft improvement upon improvement, while at the same time wrestling with the challenges of life and business.

If you're so inclined, though, the book will also give you a major serving of food for thought. In short, can we afford to stifle the modern-day equivalent of the printing press (i.e., the internet), because it too, like the printing press, is disruptive to various powers that be? Jeff raises those questions quite eloquently.
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Jeremy Aldrich on February 28, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Okay, so it wouldn't have quite the same punch as a title, but this Kindle Single isn't really about what made Gutenberg a geek; it's about what made him a great start-up founder. Jarvis gives the facts (as much as we can know them) of Gutenberg's story and writes that "In all, Gutenberg -- just like a modern-day startup -- depended on exploiting new efficiencies, achieving scale, reusing assets, dividing specialized labor, and setting standards." I had always pictured Gutenberg working alone and tinkering with the design of his printing press, but the author describes the business side of the story (which is quite compelling) and makes frequent comparisons to modern-day companies and entrepreneurs. At the very end, he pivots to a frequent (for Jeff Jarvis) theme of advocating for Internet freedom, which felt a little awkwardly tacked on. And speaking of awkwardly tacked on, here are two quotes I highlighted:
"This was a time of change and disruption -- which is like planting season for entrepreneurs."
"Don't today's entrepreneurs dream for a fraction of Gutenberg's impact? He was the inventor of history's greatest platform."

A good quick read, stylistically somewhere between a Wikipedia entry and an article in WIRED.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Craig Newmark on February 28, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Gutenberg was a geek (I prefer "nerd", being one) whose work invented our current day, much like our work together on the Internet is defining the future.

Jeff does a great job with the story of Gutenberg, correcting misconceptions including my own, and then show how it relates to Silicon Valley entrepreneurship and its context in evolving world history.

This is a really big deal, beyond my ability to articulate.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Mec on March 23, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This Single has one useful, interesting section on the business history of Gutenberg. The balance sheet alone is a lode of information. Consider: "wages, bed and board" for one worker for one year is about 15-20 guldens ($3000 to $4000). A handwritten Bible was priced at 80 guldens -- more than one worker makes in 4-5 years! Gutenberg's new printed bibles cost 20 gulden to manufacture: still more than a worker makes in a year. In modern American terms: a handwritten Bible had a price tag as large as a house, and a printed Bible had manufacturing costs comparable to a luxury car. Printing really was a big deal!

Unfortunately, much of the rest of the essay is commentary on the modern Internet. I get too much of that already from a lot of sources. I would have been more interested in historical developments between Gutenberg and 2010.

How much did a book cost when 10 years after Gutenberg? 50 years after? How about when Ben Franklin was a printer? In what year could a person earning the median wage for their society afford to buy 1 book per week? I wanted more of that history.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Cameron Mulder on March 3, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This very quick read is a great introduction to how important Gutenberg truly is and how the events of his life do inform many of the modern day issues we face with information technology.

What i love about this title is that we get a great introduction to a man who shaped our world possible more than just about anyone else yet is somewhat forgotten. Sure just about everyone knows his name and what he did but the true importance of his achievement is dulled by the fact it changed so much about our lives. It is virtually impossible to think what the world would be like without Gutenberg yet he is essentially a footnote in history.

My only real issue with this book is that it is both too short and has an odd structure. It flows from topic to topic in an almost stream of consciousness way which leads to many points being repeated more than necessary and makes the overall point of the book a little less clear.

Still for less than a dollar this is well worth your time and money.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Ben M. Morrell on February 29, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is a very interesting bit written by Jeff Jarvis about the history of a technology (the printing press) that changed the world. He draws and points at parallels to our current situation with the internet. It's a quick read, very well put together and easy to follow. Inspiring and hopeful, yet with a tone of warning as well.
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