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I’ve just had a one of those 360 degree Internet-connected linking feedback experiences.  I read a book.  After reading it, I checked what its readers had to say in the community known as Amazon.  I found I agreed with everyone who voiced an opinion, both good and bad.  I am the richer for all of it. 

I have been reading (actually, listening to on audio CD) Jeff Jarvis’ book, What would Google do?  And, as Mr. McLuhan says, the media is the message, so it is even more interesting to hear Mr. Jarvis read his own book than to listen to myself read it in print – because he is so gung-ho about his adoration of Google, that I can hear the excitement in his voice.

Mr. Jarvis explores a fascinating subject: if the fundamental policies of Google become ubiquitous, what does the world look like?  He explores various business markets (media, airlines, utilities, banking, retail, advertising and more) and government institutions.  His Table of Contents offers an outline.  

I must say the title makes me wince.  And he certainly needs a strong editor.  And his is not an unbiased view – he loves Google and believes it or its principles should (and possibly will) run the world.  Taking all that with a grain of salt, there is much to consider in his interpretations of such possibilities.

This is a special moment in time to encounter Mr. Jarvis’ book (published this year 2009):  the moment when the Web is finally ubiquitous but its future impact is only just beginning to be understood.   I remembered that Mozaic was released as the worldwide web in 1993.  I began working with my first Internet client in early 1994, which IPO’d in 1998.  I have worked exclusively in new technologies since 1981.  So I have long-understood that most emerging technologies take ~15 years to become ubiquitous and this is year 16 for the Web. 

Those of us who have a history with technology as long as the Web’s will at some times feel, while reading, “Of course, I know all that, that’s obvious.”  At the same time, I thought “Oh, that’s an interesting way to see it”; or, “that makes sense”; or “I hadn’t put those intersections together.”  It was as if I had been lazy, somehow, about actually thinking all the important thoughts at once.

The Amazon community offers 82 customer reviews, mostly positive, and the negative ones are quite interesting:

And here was the fun part.  All the things Mr. Jarvis says about community and feedback and the change in the way information is shared came true just then, reading the feedback from a single community – because each comment, in this instance, is valid and each one adds to the information exchange that is our new world.  I felt like the fly on the wall of the best book club in the world.  I felt a new gestalt on the “conversation.”

This gestalt reminded me of a lesson I received long ago from an old guru.  He said, “Every piece of joy you experience rises into the universe and adds itself to the tail end of infinity.”  No wonder infinity never ends.  Let’s hope it is the same for our conversations.