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Category Archives: business

This is a sequel to this team’s first book, Freakonomics.

Super Freakonomics, like Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers, is a testament to the power of statistics, and the surprising information it reveals. For example, believe it or not, it is actually safer to drive home from a party drunk, than to walk. Stuff like that.

But the tone of the book is too chatty, especially in relation to the serious topics that it explores. Modern warfare, drug addiction and prostitution have enough pain and suffering that anyone touching on them should tip their hat to that reality. These authors were a little too cavalier for me. I got tired of the snappy turns of phrases.

My score: C + (and that’s being generous)

Its a good quick read! You can skim: he should’ve had a better editor. Its really about marketing – in lay terms – and what motivates people in their buying decisions, and how this knowledge is used to manipulate buyer behavior. It also covers social behavior and the underlying factors in the choices we make: and they’re not what you’d think.

He’s had an amazing life: suffered 3rd degree burns on 70% of his body when fifteen. He’s spent the past 30 years slowly reconstructing and healing, mainly through force of will and the simple desire to survive.

I say: A – (the minus for wordiness)

You want to be a starfish because if you lose a leg, you grow back a new one. The starfish is a model of decentralization.

The spider, in contrast, is highly centralized. All ‘administration’ is concentrated in the central part of the body. This leaves the spider more vulnerable. If you lose the center, you fall apart.

Decentralized organizations are stronger and more resilient and the internet encourages and fosters them. Collective repositories, open source software, and social networks all represent the decentralized starfish model. (Wikipedia, Apache, etc.)

An example of the spider model would be American auto makers: less flexible, unable to respond quickly to changing customer demands and needs.

The books was a great read: the prose is straightforward, not too many “big words”… especially good in mid-summer when half of one’s mind is on vacation anyway. Bring it to the beach if you want something a little more substantial than the latest Alexander McCall Smith installment.

Solid A.

What would Google do?

Jarvis’s take on Google’s success is worth looking into.

The book is bouncy, spare and bright …. and he shows how Google turns the profit model on its head. Whether you like it or not, Google is the success model of the future. Check out what they’re doing. Open this book.

My score: A. Solid.