Recently, I’ve read two books I would like to recommend to anyone looking for new insights into the world’s digital economy. Although the two of them are extremely different in their messages and tonality, both present a lot of food for thought.
“How Google works” by Eric Schmidt & Jonathan Rosenberg
A great guide for all inclined to get bigger and faster – just like Google. Google might be doing many things wrong from the view of the publishers, but what it does get right is how to create an atmosphere in which each employer feels empowered to change the world.
Book in a nutshell:
The primary objective of any business today is to increase the speed of the product development process and the quality of its output. Company culture defines everything you do and is essential to your success. Think big, hire the best talented people (smart creatives) and give them the power to do things, think in terms of platforms and not products. Bet on technical insights that help solve a big problem in a novel way and optimise for scale, not for revenue. Don’t get too comfortable doing what you have always done – instead, place big bets on the future. This is an essential reading for CEOs, HRs and aspiring leaders.
Hire as many talented engineers as possible, and give them freedom.
You have to be crazy enough to think you will succeed, but sane enough to make it happen.
If we have data, let’s look at data. If we have opinions, let’s go with mine.
“Have you ever seen a scheduled plan that a the team beat? Have your teams ever delivered better products that were in the plan? Then what’s the point of the plan? It’s holding us back. There must be a better way. Just go talk to the engineers”.
“Who owns the future” by Jaron Lanier
After reading this book, you are sure to get sceptical about Google, but that shouldn’t discourage you from applying Google principles in your work. The book basically describes the dark side of internet companies which have grown just too big and too powerful.
Book in a nutshell:
To be powerful today can mean having information superiority. Companies owning the most effective computers on the networks (“Siren Servers”) such as Google, Facebook, or Amazon, convert free users’ data into capital by applying statistical correlations and algorithms. These companies are ruining local markets, employing less people than traditional companies, and gathering information to reduce their exposure to the risks out to general society. Eventually, we aren’t creating enough opportunity for enough people online.
Solution: In a world of digital dignity, each individual will be the commercial owner of any data that can be measured from that person’s state or behaviour. Treating information as a mask behind which real people are hiding means that digital data will be treated as being consistently valuable. A system of nanopayments proportional both to the degree of contribution and the resultant value, should be developed. These nanopayments will add up, and lead to a new social contract in which people are motivated to contribute to an information economy.
Paranoia is only getting started.
Privacy in a humanistic economy will no longer be all-or-nothing. Instead it will cost real money to access your information.
In a well-realized information economy, information needn’t be free in order to be accessible.
In a future in which you own your own data, you might agree to have a company like Facebook to provide services, but if Facebook went bankrupt your online life and identity would not disappear; Facebook would not have been the exclusive holder of your data or identity.
Creepy digital fut