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Customer Review

98 of 120 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars I think the crux of the book is summed up at page 47. What would Google do? Well, just get lucky, very lucky., January 23, 2009
This review is from: What Would Google Do? (Hardcover)
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I did not like this book. Yep. It's actually less than OK and I have a distinct aversion toward it. Thus, it earned a 2-star rating from me. In my humble opinion, this book is poorly organized and poorly written. In fact, even as I write this review, I have yet to figure out what organization it has. As I read it I felt like it just kept meandering and babbling with no message, no point, no content of real value.

The title of the book probably would have been just as appropriate if it has been "WWGD?" instead of the search engine optimized verion "What Would Google Do?" And if the author got paid as much as he boasts for writing this book at page 56, then the publishers really got conned. I cannot imagine this book being a bestseller. And if it ultimately is, then I have to laugh heartily at the publishing system that exists today.

The author is a trained journalist who covered New Media stories in business, then started a blog, got cozy with venture capital firms apparently, quit his journalist job, became a CUNY graduate school professor where he collects $100K a year in salary supplemented by consulting and speaking gigs that gets him another $200K a year in revenues. Nowhere in that resume is there any training in business or experience running a company. And thus, we have a self-appointed expert on business telling us about what Google would do if it were YOU. What a joke!

Google is a new media company. It is huge, very good at what it does, and what it provides is in high demand. Its business model is one that relies on revenue streams generated by advertising dollars. Newspapers, magazines, professional sports teams, film producers, and TV stations all create entertainment of some sort or another. What they do rarely creates sizeable revenue streams directly. Only the indirect revenue streams gained through advertisers support the business model. Are most companies set up like this? Can most companies bend their business models to work this way? The proper answer is: NO. And as a result, this book is a bunch of bunk.

At page 31 the author talks about "revenue models." Anybody in business knows there is no such thing. There are business models, and they have revenue streams, but streams are not models - they are just streams (or rivers in the case of Google). And at page 52 the author says "organization is a business model." No. No. No. Organization is merely a way of doing business, but it is not a business model. Business models are profit models. Revenues in must exceed expenses and costs out. And the revenue streams come from selling product, providing service, or advertising.

I think the crux of the book is summed up at page 47. What would Google do? Well, just get lucky, very lucky. 2 stars!

PS. I have read the other three book reviews previously posted for this book. I usually don't read reviews to learn anything, but since I had such a problem figuring out what the purpose of this book was I felt I would check to see if the other reviewers could help me comprehend (see the light). Unfortunately, the other reviews I found to either be babble delievered much like what was in the book - or a verification that the book was mere babble. Oh yeah, I think the book would have been better if the title were changed to "What Would Jarvis Do?" since he's the one laughing all the way to the bank. Not many people in America command $300K a year in compensation.
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Showing 1-10 of 12 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jan 25, 2009 10:45:55 AM PST
Thank you for this post. It saved me from spending good money on what is probably just a fattened-up blog post. It is interesting, either ethical or telling, to see that very few of the author's friends have commented on the book, not even Seth Godin who recommended checking it out.

Posted on Jan 28, 2009 10:59:48 AM PST
Ryan Pfister says:
There is a Newsweek article that mentions this book and, more interestingly, mentions this review specifically.

Posted on Jan 29, 2009 5:59:30 AM PST
Thank-you for saving me the money for the purchase of this book, and more importantly the time needed to read it.

Posted on Feb 2, 2009 5:56:46 PM PST
J. Marsano says:

Kudos to you and your review. I received and reviewed the book as part of Amazon Vine; I wish I had read yours first and saved my effort!

A comment here re: Jarvis' compensation. Are you, as I was, very interested in the notion that this gentleman is a professor? I ask because my own (admittedly bilious) take on this is that he is not by any standard definition a professor, but a highly-paid nameplate for a faculty study hall called the New Media Center at CUNY.

I could be shooting myself in the foot here, but what do you want to bet that he does not teach a full courseload? Or even one course every semester?



Posted on Feb 18, 2009 8:28:29 AM PST
Seems to be a trend -- Dan Gillmor (ex-journalist at San Jose Mercury News) and Jeff Jarvis both found sanctuary at a University when their attempts at new business ventures didn't pan out. Also, David Weinberger is now in a faculty position at Harvard. When online pundits retire, or otherwise seek relief from the pressures of commercial demands, they apparently head to the nearest college campus.

Posted on Feb 20, 2009 1:48:23 PM PST
Steven Forth says:
I have not decided whether or not to read this book, but this is a singularly useless review. All I got from it was jealously and bile, no understanding of the book or author, even though the reviewer seems to be obsessed with the author. A quick browse through the table of contents and index gave me a pretty good view of the structure, which seems coherent and relevant. There has been a paradigm shift in how one builds and delivers software and how one builds a company and community around that software. 37 Signals (the people behind Basecamp and Ruby on Rails) did an excellent book on this a few years ago. This book seems to cover similar ground. An interesting trend these days is books written in blog style, some because they began as blogs, others because this has become a genre. I am looking forward to a generation of books (probably novels and political commentary) written in Facebook style. In the unlikely event that I ever have time to write a book (I prefer to build companies) I may write it as a series of searches.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 22, 2009 2:54:36 AM PST
Jealousy and bile? Obsessed with the author? I think not to both questions. Before I ordered the book from the Amazon Vine Program I had never heard of the author. And while reading the book I was forced to find out a little about him. He incorporated himself into the pages of the book. But I only mentioned the author in my review because he made himself a part of his book. And since I was left with a negative feeling as I read the book, I suppose I have a little bit of a negative feeling for the author since he was part of the book - not because he wrote it.

I'm glad you could browse the TOC and index and get a pretty good view of the structure of the book. Of course, you must be a sorcerer to accomplish this in my humble opinion. You say you have not read the book, so I find it hard to believe you can voice a trustworthy and credible opinion as to whether the book is in fact coherent. And as to whether the book is relevant to the subject the title and introduction say the book was to cover, then I know you are out in left field.

I have little tolerance for ANY book that practices "bait and switch" tactics in obtaining readers. The book I reviewed was marketed as a general business book covering business in general whether the reader comes from a retail shop, service firm, or entertainment/media company. While there are a few points in the book that are universally applicable to all three types of companies, the majority of the book applies only to entertainment/media companies. Therefore, this book is a classic bait and switch fraud. And since it is so poorly written in the same way as most blogs are written, this book deservedly got a 2-star rating from me.

I find it interesting that you are looking forward to a generation of books written in Facebook style. I can assure you that I am not. Such material would most certainly be of little value to anyone trying to build a database of information, knowledge, and finally intelligence. Information and knowledge is OK, but learned people know the real value of something is in intelligence. The book I reviewed here lacked intelligence. It was simply a lousy compilation of information and maybe a little knowledge.

Posted on Oct 16, 2009 10:16:05 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Oct 16, 2009 10:19:21 PM PDT
clarity says:
Jeff Lippincott, I'm glad you've pointed to Jeff Jarvis's truly laughable practice of presenting rare, exorbitantly lucky cases such as his own (or Google's, for that matter) as paradigm cases of what most people out there might sensibly aspire to achieve. And if you think reading the book was a nuisance, wait until you hear him go through the whole audio version!

Plus, he doesn't practice what he fanatically preaches at all. While he relentlessly lectures condescendingly about how companies should listen to their customers or about how journalists can finally correct their errors in response to commentators today, what happens when you politely and repeatedly point out a simple factual error in one of his blog posts is that he simply ignores you. He does nothing about it, he couldn't care less. I couldn't believe it when I saw it earlier this year.

A paradoxical feature of you own original post, though, is that you write "I usually don't read reviews to learn anything". This makes no sense coming from a top reviewer on Amazon. Thanks for the review, though.

Posted on Oct 30, 2009 6:56:43 PM PDT
surferfree says:
Thank you for saving me the time to read this book. Life is too short for reading fattened pamphlets.

Posted on Jun 20, 2010 12:42:03 AM PDT
Far2Real says:
Thank you for your excellent review. I haven't read the book but suspected from the title it was a short cut to make a quick buck. I agree with you, how can one profess being a business expert without anything to show for? Maybe Mr. Jarvis could explain to us how Goldman Sachs would achieve better results by applying the google model. I guess they don't need him to spoil their money making machine. Finally, what convinced me not buy the book was his promotional video: - Clearly a mad man
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Location: Princeton, NJ USA

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