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Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Summer Reading

I read two strong books last week, and when someone remarked on the quality of my recommendations, I thought I remembered they were found on a blog post.

Sure enough, they were the first two picks on Seth Godin’s Summer Reading List.

Steven Pressfield’s The Profession is a near future social fantasy, much like Makers. These books can take our current situation, extend it, and show probable results.

The concept I took from The Profession is that we are all essentially family first, then tribe, and only the most fortunate get to anything bigger than that. Americans have been lucky to have a national idea, even from before de Tocqueville wrote about it.

Professional diplomats desperately want to see a larger, more civilized view of human aspiration (full employment for diplomats), the trouble occurs when they consistently expect something that isn’t there.

Steven Levy’s In The Plex How Google Thinks, Works, and Shapes Our Lives is my third major Google book. Like John Battelle’s The Search: How Google and Its Rivals Rewrote the Rules of Business and Transformed Our Culture and Ken Auletta’s Googled:The End of the World as We Know It, In The Plex covers the early innings but also adds insights and stories into Google’s six front war. I was reading Levy’s definition of Google +1 just as I became aware of it, History showing the future!

In The Plex has stories of more than a dozen of Google’s top contributors, and we see them going from project to project, how they attack and solve never-before-solved problems, which sometimes work and sometimes don’t. Overall, the side with the bias toward action is the side to bet on.

It’s harder to write about the positive aspects of a situation. Much easier to trash Google’s aspirations because they aren’t complete yet. Still, a lot of Google projects are becoming understood, and even supported by subsequent projects, so the success of setting out to harness the world’s information is becoming evident.

You have to do more work to figure out what is working. In doing so, Levy is also providing a coherent picture of why Google wins, with lessons to emulate.

I am deep into Google, and I was saddened by the “we all know” dismissal of Buzz. I use the heck out of it, it’s a major part of my arsenal, because I’ve figured out what Buzz can do for me that I can’t get anywhere else.

I guess some people have a fear of being too positive, but I now look on any Google failure as “not done, yet.

Reading In The Plex reminds of the mantra of that football team from Green Bay. “Nobody beats the Packers. Sometimes the clock runs out on them.”