The book:What Would Google Do? by Jeff Jarvis; Collins Business; January 2009.
The big idea: Google and its underlying principles ("connections, links, transparency, openness…") are transforming virtually all aspects of life. Those who transform themselves to optimize search will conquer the earth.
The backstory: A self-proclaimed Internet triumphalist, Jarvis has a popular blog, BuzzMachine, and teaches at City University of New York.
Everything stale is new again: 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 through concreteness (he breaks down the revenue from his own blog), through his elevation of unexpected icons (Howard Stern as proto-Googler), and through the scope of his treatise. He even resurrects the Internet refrigerator and makes it sound cool.
If you read nothing else: The first half of WWGD lays out Jarvis's main ideas. The last 150 pages are not essential. But reading about restaurants that create recipes with their customers and airplane cabins that act as social networks is fun.
Rigor rating: 6 (1=Who Moved My Cheese?; 10=Good to Great). I suspect Jarvis would reject rigor as a metric, because it connotes inflexibility. WWGD has no notes section, but, because many ideas have already been debated on Jarvis's blog, the book exudes credibility.
IMAGE: Anthony Verde
Last updated: Jan 1, 2009
LEIGH BUCHANAN is an editor at large for Inc. magazine. A former editor at Harvard Business Review and founding editor of WebMaster magazine, she writes regular columns on leadership and workplace culture. @LeighEBuchanan
Editor-at-large Leigh Buchanan writes Inc.'s book review column, The Skimmer's Guide to the Latest Business Books. She also writes company profiles, and columns on leadership and office life. Her work has also appeared in the Harvard Business Review and CIO Magazine. And, yes, early in her career Buchanan edited the TV Guide crossword puzzle.