What Would Google Do? (part 2)

For your reading of pages 70-118, finishing off the “Google Rules” section, think about how you would pull together this first half of the book—how would you explain it to a friend? Which of the Google Rules seems most radical, surprising, or otherwise, in your opinion? And how are these rules related to journalism and media? (Our part 3 of this reading will take up the chapter on media, but I’d like to hear your speculations now…)

Please respond in the comments section by class Thursday.

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16 Responses to “What Would Google Do? (part 2)”


  1. 1 billbowmanut October 7, 2009 at 11:00 am

    The reading we had continued to offer good (if not a bit redundant) insight on new media and economy. Explaining the first half of the book to a friend who was not familiar with the new journalism issues would not be very difficult. I would explain to them the concept of getting your message out to as many people as possible in a democratic way. I would talk about how being free and open with some things is important and allows you to build up trust with users. I would talk about the increased transparency needed by companies.

    While reading the book, I tried to see how it could relate to my Knight News Challenge proposal. My proposal focuses on crowd souring and open source content creation. It was most related to what Jarvis said about life being live. The fact that news and answers are instant in today’s world, and even more so in the future, is going to be a key driving component in the world. Having people communicate and create in mobile and live forms is the next step in media.

    Also, I found it funny that Jarvis also liked using the word iterate a la David Cohn on page 93.

  2. 2 James October 7, 2009 at 5:29 pm

    The first half of WWGD blows the lid off of the traditional rules of business and the marketplace. If I were to talk to someone about this book I would begin by saying “The book is about how the Google model changes everything.” This, I believe, is what Jarvis is getting at in the first half of the book. Of course “everything” is the broadest you can get when discussing something. So, I would begin a discussion with some by telling them about how Google makes money not by charging for products, but by gathering an audience. I would also explain to them the importance of destroying walls, and instead allowing free distribution in order to gain that audience.

    The rule that seems most radical for journalism, is for it be transparent. For journalism, transparency is something totally new. We read in WWGD how traditional news was all about gaining information, guarding it until it was as perfected as possible, and then trying to be the first to release it in order to gain credibility and praise. The new Google model has radically changed that. News is now fluid, the process is visible, and this transparency is becoming the new objectivity.

    Transparency is something that is kind of new to everyone online and I wonder how radically this idea is going to change not just journalism, but culture as a whole.

  3. 3 Tiffany Tso October 7, 2009 at 7:05 pm

    I feel like, as with the first part of WWGD?, this second part was very much a ‘how to run your business and not into the ground’ guide. I feel as if this part, along with the first portion, is just filled with obvious advice — or maybe I am wrong. Anyway, the whole new business ethics may have just caught on faster than Google or Jarvis would have thought, but I feel like the tips in this book are ones that I would already be abiding by without having delved into this book. {Not to sound like a total braggart).

    The parts on honesty and transparency and collaboration (and not being evil?) are all just good business. Especially in the new age of technology and interactivity, it is clear that a business will not succeed if it does not abide by these simple rules. The means to success in this field requires little and appears easy. However, it is after you start this up, there lies the issue of how to make it a profitable venture, rather than just a lovable, successful company.

    I also found the ideology behind Newmark’s Craigslist – and other similar ventures – of “get out of the way.” I suppose due to the rise in collaboration and citizen activity (if that makes sense), this kind of business is on the rise. It seems hard to really come up with a new business venture under the same mantra, because craigslist, google and amazon really have that one down. It seems as if this is truly the way to go, if only somebody can really find a new, inventive way to monetize it (besides those three of course).

  4. 4 Katherine Robinson October 7, 2009 at 7:59 pm

    I have to agree with Bill as far as explaining Jarvis’ book to someone outside of a journalism class room. The material is pretty easy to understand. But if I had to explain the main concepts of the first half of the book, I would list some of the problems Jarvis had with Dell. Then go into how innovations in new journalism trends can really bring down a company’s profits. Blogging was pretty new but Jarvis’ comments about Dell really hurt the company. By Jarvis bashing Dell it really ties into a company that has started a new way on satisfying customers. The people who helped contribute to the Google explosion, set the standards on creating a new business model that proved to be successful with simplicity.

    I agree with Jarvis when he mentions that the internet helped “foster new self-publishing companies” (73). He gives great examples of how Amazon is a bookstore, and you don’t even have to leave your house. But then Jarvis uses Amazon and other internet companies to say people are cutting the middleman by taking shortcuts threw shopping online. The rule that I really didn’t agree with was ‘Middlemen are doomed.’ I guess I just feel this way because my Knight News Challenge Innovation project is all about being the middlemen. My project is about journalists being the middleman between a consumer and company. The middleman would succeed. Even in my stories for broadcast, we’re taught to personalize a story by having a middleman, tell their side of the story for personalization.

    I did find it amusing when he gives kudos to his agent (aka-his middlemen) when he had to get his book published.

  5. 5 Cassandra H October 7, 2009 at 8:01 pm

    The biggest things that I got out of the first reading was to: be open with the audience, allow them to contribute to the work that you have set out to do, and to be a platform that can fit diverse needs for your diverse audience. In explaining this to my friend, I think I would show them the bigger picture of what Google means to the overall scope of the Internet. Given that my friends are all in their 20s who can not live without their source to the World Wide Web, I do not think that they will have trouble grasping this concept: WE are what make up the franchise and everything that goes along with it. Without its audience–people linking, consuming, searching, rating–the Internet would be useless and so would Google. It is this machine that feeds as much of input as it does for output.

    As I have commented before, I feel like a big part of Jarvis’s idea is that the audience is as much of a part of the process as the person behind it. This is illustrated by his discussion of the “Middlemen are dead.” Once we have direct connection with the idea, the process, and the product than we no longer need to go through a different route. It is already there for us.

    Although redundant, I do think that he outlines very good principles for what the journalism transition to online needs to be successful: transparency and knowing that it is okay to make mistakes. I feel like the Internet puts a ton of pressure on news organizations, not only because of the level of competition, but because you need to be very sure what you are saying is accurate and fair.

  6. 6 Adam Aldrete October 7, 2009 at 8:15 pm

    I have explained the first part of this book as explaining a new era of business. From the layout of the “chapters” to the content itself, WWGD? is a book that businesses, especially those seeking to go online, should read.
    The most radical idea in the book thus far is Jarvis’ claim that “free is a business model.” Such a concept would appear foreign to businesses always looking to maximize profits. The idea of providing a service for free with having others (primarily advertisers or in the case of public transportation the government)foot the bill is not completely new. Many newspapers across the country had extremely low prices, with profits coming from advertisers. However, it is a model that is rarely seen in businesses in most industries.
    Running hand-in-hand with the idea that “free is a business model” is notion that businesses should remain open to networking, rather then seek out a vertical business model as many large corporations like Wal-Mart try to do. The idea of networking should have the most resonance to members of the media industry. Media companies, especially the newspaper industry, needs to find ways of further integrating themselves into the community in order to reach broader audiences and inform the citizenry of the events affecting them. Allowing everyday citizens to post comments, blog about, and link to media companies’ sites can help to boost the readership of their publications.

  7. 7 Leigh. October 7, 2009 at 8:46 pm

    Yes, much of this reading is repetitive. I think if I were to explain this to a peer, I would expect them, honestly, to know most of it. This could very well just be from how much reading/discussing I’ve already done on the topic, but I feel like much of this is just really obvious. Also, I think I’m just suffering from Jarvis-overdose, but I’m finding myself kind of annoyed at how much self-promotion he partakes in. Okay, Jarvis rant over.

    That being said, I did find that this part of the reading picked up a lot as he started getting into the details of how specifically Google has been progressive in making strides for “web 2.0” and creating this new business model of sorts (although I think in some cases — open sourcing, in particular — I think Jarvis may be giving Google a bit more credit for their innovation than they really warrant…)

    As he talks about all these aspects of Google that I didn’t even know existed until the reading, it basically proves the point he’s trying to make (and one of the more important Google “Rules,” in my opinion), that companies like Google can greatly attribute success to being ahead of the curve on innovation and development.

    I’m also finding the parts about media putting trust in the public to be really interesting. Jarvis makes a good case for the new implications of having a “customer is always right” attitude. Now, like never before, readers can respond in a very public way. No longer can media expect for people to passively accept transmitted information.

  8. 8 msherfield October 7, 2009 at 9:20 pm

    Yes, the advice is for the most part obvious. “Don’t be evil” has been around for a few thousand years or so, and such is the speed an ubiquity of the internet that we’ve taken all of this supposed revolution in stride with nothing more than a shrug. We even made Google a word.

    As for Jarvis, how many jobs has he had? Honestly, every new sub chapter seems to involve a past job at some magazine or newspaper where he predicted something and no one listened. And he stumbled into 9/11, just for good measure.

    All that said, his message does have value. Personally, the most compelling to me where the idea of the value associated with freedom and transparency, both of which are very pertinent to our beleaguered profession of choice.

    As he says, news organizations have to decide what business they are in. They used to be in the ad selling business, but that’s long gone. Where does their value lay now? Is it knowledge? Information? Aggregation? These are the questions executives have to start asking before they can provide an answer.

    Meanwhile, the importance of free cannot be overstated. Putting a paywall around content, no matter how good the content is, will almost never make more money than making it free and open to advertising. These are the lessons news companies are starting to learn, mostly from unfortunate experiences.

    The following section about transparency, trust, the value of mistakes and in general not being villainous in your motivation all go hand in hand. Obviously, he hits us over the head with the Rather example, a perfect case of the old media finding itself unwelcomed in the new world order.

  9. 9 Lonny.A October 7, 2009 at 9:38 pm

    If I had to regurgitate this back to a friend, I would say that in order to be an innovator, you must first find a solution to an existing problem BUT you must do so by creating a platform that doesn’t create a community but offers a place for one to gather. You must be able to lay it all out on the line, talk directly to the people and most importantly, give control back to the people. What Jarvis is saying throughout part one is that companies and consumers no longer share the relationship that of a parent and child-children do what they are told and accept it- but more like peers;it’s become more of a give and take relationship.

    What I found most interesting was the “getting rid of the middleman” chapter. It’s a good idea in that it humanizes the corporate people and closes the gap between them and the consumers, but then when looking at this from a different point of view, that would mean a loss of jobs for a lot of people.

    I found the points and suggestions Jarvis made to be useful for someone who’s thinking about doing the same as Google and Facebook. But then again, Jarvis lists all these mega businesses that have successfully implemented his rules in various industries. It makes me wonder, is there anything else that needs to be done that can produce the same results like Google has done?

    The biggest problem today news and magazine sites have is that they are too cluttered with ads and information. Rather than drawing people in, it’s keeping them out. Jarvis, I think, discussed this in the first section using the Yahoo! and Google example basically saying that simple is better. But as far as interacting with its readers, the sites are taking full advantage of the web 2.0.

  10. 10 jwhitcomb October 7, 2009 at 10:06 pm

    Jeff Jarvis lays out the content in the first half of WWGD? in a very straight-forward way so it would be relatively simple to explain it to a friend. Jarvis’ rules are so simple, in fact, it almost seems silly to try and reiterate them. But if I had to sum it up, I would say WWGD? is about paying attention to audiences because they carry much more power, utilize the technology in an innovative way and as fast as possible, be open and transparent, and get comfortable with the idea of being free in order to make money.

    I think the rule “Be honest” was the most surprising. That doesn’t make sense after I typed it because being honest is so important and obvious. But Jarvis explains honesty almost in terms of bluntness, citing John Stewart and Howard Stern as examples. These people as well as bloggers “say what they think” and I along with the rest of what Jarvis calls “the post-media generation” appreciate their bluntness. I liked seeing this put out as a rule because I feel like so often the blunt or the critical tone of voices similar to Stewart ‘s are looked down on by traditional media. I thought it was surprising to see that this is considered a rule to be successful now.

    Being honest also ties these concepts back in with journalism. Jarvis makes lots of great points about the importance of honesty and transparency in building an audience. I think, though, while the ideas were deemed ethical before (and sometimes/usually practiced) now they are required since the Internet makes everything visible.

  11. 11 austintries5 October 7, 2009 at 11:11 pm

    Like the first half of the section, the second half continues to outline the innovative business models of Google and basically lays out each aspect of not only a successful way to handle clients, but also basic aspects for good business in general. Echoing Sherfield, Jarvis’ life and the amount of jobs he has had is fascinating to read about, and I can’t believe people didn’t figure out to listen to his ideas. Stumbling on 9/11 was pretty random too.

    If I were to explain the first half of the section to a friend I don’t think it would be too difficult simply because of everyone’s association with Google. It is everywhere and most people understand the bullet points of the business model; however, I would stress being radical. Fundamentally, treating your customer as a partner and respecting the power of the link would both be stellar points. Also, the story of Dell is vital to realizing the change in industry, putting the consumer and producer on an equal level.

    The most radical part of section two would have to be the concept of trusting the consumers. “The powerful must trust the public,” Jarvis writes and he goes on to talk about how when he let the people choose between multiple selections, they actually made higher quality choices. Also the concept of free goes against all orthodox views of business. Its hard to imagine how giving things away could actually improve business but that is why Google succeeds.

  12. 12 timgarlitz October 7, 2009 at 11:41 pm

    I found some of the references in this particular reading to be in poor taste. Particularly when Jarvis is detailing the aftermath of the Virginia Tech shooting and all he is concerned with is how the student uploaded a video. Talking about how the student failed to report something accurately while his life was being threatened seems incongruous for the situation he was describing.

    Another thing that bothered me was the account of Michael Arrington’s troubles on p. 107. Although a customer who has repeatedly been treated shabbily by a corporation that it is a customer of has every right to voice their concerns, Arrington’s behavior after only 36 hours of lost internet was rude and tactless. Using your Twitter or blog to loudly complain against a company that is just having technical difficulties while no one else seems to be experiencing the same said problems makes you look more like an impatient whiner and a jerk rather than a victimized customer. Arrington’s tirade managed to get the job done, but at the same time his dependence on technology and unwillingness to wait made his character seem over the top and slightly offensive.

    Jarvis’ ideas about not waiting to innovate and forge ahead in your business are accurate summations of what causes underdeveloped and overwhelmed companies to falter in today’s shaky economy. And holding onto the old ways of the old media can be a red flag as it was for TV Guide. However, I would like to hear feedback from those on the other side of the argument, particularly the chairman of the Federal Trade Commission who was recently quoted as saying in regard to Jarvis’ news model proposals: “I’m not so sure that the ecosystem that you propose — and particularly given the First Amendment values — is necessarily as good for society as some aspects of the current system.” One aspect that I don’t believe has yet been mentioned is that, although the printing and delivery industries are both inefficient and somewhat outdated in the new economy, the workforce that currently supplies these services will certainly be affected by a total elimination of the old processes.

  13. 13 brandonfried October 8, 2009 at 12:09 am

    Jarvis certainly does lay it on pretty thick. The ideas are simple and I think that’s what is best about the book and his writing. We all know how successful Google has become and who wouldn’t appreciate an easy-to-read guide to the ‘Google model’ that James first points out. Google is easy to understand itself and therefore its structure is too. Jarvis outlines the importance of the audience, the importance of being open and honest and the absolute necessity behind an organization being innovative and eager to say ahead of the curve.

    I think the hardest, and oftentimes the most important, lesson companies need to learn is to ‘Be Honest’. He brings up Google VP’s story about ‘Macs and Madonna’ (a reference I rather enjoyed) and mentions significant failures for the two examples. Each of their openness about the mistake helped them to succeed going forward and you can’t argue with the power of each of the two brands today. Also, I really liked reading about Google’s ‘always in beta’ approach and their constant dedication to improving what they’ve already put forward. We can all learn from this – owning up to mistakes and being willing to improve quickly will ultimately prove for a more successful future.

    As I’ve mentioned before, I really like Jarvis’ views on collaboration as he highlights in the ‘New Ethic’ section. While most of what he says relates to a company or organization’s collaborative relationship with its customers, I think the idea is easily applicable to like organization’s within the same industry.

  14. 14 Samantha Borger October 8, 2009 at 5:57 am

    In order to explain what this idea is about, I would simply say it’s Jeff Jarvis’ guide to building a successful business based the rules that make Google a profitable enterprise. However, if you take a step back and look at the overall context, this book is really about how to build a successful online presence, in general, whether it be profitable or not. It’s innovation 101. It encourages ideas that could improve media companies as they realize they need to make changes in order to move toward the future of journalism.
    So far, the rule I found most surprising was in the “Don’t Be Evil” chapter. The idea seems so simple. In fact it’s something that should have been engrained in most of our ideologies since we could first understand our parents’ lessons about right and wrong. I think the simplicity of this rule is exactly what surprised me. It’s so obvious, yet as he demonstrated with the Walmart example, so many large companies tend to forget this important rule. I think large media conglomerates especially find themselves muddled in a debate of evilness. It happens when companies get so large—compassion often gets thrown to the wind in the interest of money. I also liked that Jarvis was able to be objective and give some examples of Google not being so perfect in their tactics regarding “evilness.” I think it added a little bit of transparency to the book.
    The last rule- “Get out of the way” was also interesting to me. I think the idea of letting your audience run away with your product makes many businesses extremely uncomfortable. However, this is the absolute most straightforward way to encourage innovation of one’s product. Letting the people use your product the way they want to, while it may not reflect your original plan, will create and build an audience for the product and will improve upon the ideas you began with.

  15. 15 Grant October 8, 2009 at 6:24 am

    I think that one of the most interesting passages in this section of WWGD, is when Jarvis explains that this is not this first controversial situation the news industry has been in when it comes to determining pricing for news. When newspapers first began printing, papers decided not to charge people the actual cost of printing the paper, realizing this would deter too many possible readers. They instead chose to cover the most of the cost of printing and shipping through third parties by charging advertisers to print in their paper. This allowed the newspapers to fulfill their main goal — getting the news to those who needed it without having the cost of getting news be too big of a barrier. This sounds like common sense today, but this type of business model had never before been introduced.

    Today newspapers face a similar situation, although this time instead of deciding to keep customer costs low by cutting out shippers and other third parties, they are the third party who either has to adjust and offer services for almost nothing, or get cut out themselves. The main problem here is that in the past, if the papers had decided not cut out the shippers, people would have no choice but to pay for them or not consume news directly. Today, people have an infinite number of alternatives, and companies are either forced to comply with the demands of the people or die out.

  16. 16 Erin Harris October 8, 2009 at 6:56 am

    Jarvis tells companies, whether news organizations or not, to hand over control to the consumers, trust your consumers, and they will trust you. Be honest, open, and transparent. Learn your target market, use natural phenomenons (like webs of trust) to your advantage, and be accountable for your mistakes.

    I think of the qualities of a good friend… someone I have mutual trust with, mutual power, mutual understanding, and someone who has the ability to apologize. A company should strive to be that good friend.

    Whatever you do, don’t be a middleman! If the Internet is not working in your favor, then you are probably a middleman! Middlemen jobs are “doomed.” With the advent of the Internet – craigslist, Amazon, Zillow, Google, ebay – people can find the information they need to make informed purchases. And the process is made more efficient.

    One rule I have a problem with is “free is a business model.” Not every company is as lucky as Google. Many can’t get by without charging consumers, but I do agree that every company can apply many of these rules and become a more well liked, trusted, therefore successful business/brand.


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