This book is not about Google per se but rather about the new business rules of engagement in this age of Twitter, Facebook and of course Google, where your main service may be free and you get income through a side-door, where you collaborate with your customers openly rather than trying to sweep problems under the rug, where transparency is assumed and sometimes forced upon a company.

This new world is disrupting many businesses: eliminating middlemen and enabling buyers to compare prices. Take one false step and it’s quickly tweeted around the world.

After reviewing the principles associated with this new era, Jarvis then tries to apply them to different industries. Imagine, for example, an airline that attracted people with certain interests and through onboard wifi, helped you connect with people you’d want to talk to or sit next to. They could create a secondary market for seats, which might reduce no-shows and help the airline estimate passenger loads.

What is interesting, from a sustainability perspective, is how this new culture supports a move toward sustainability:

  • Free services mean equity; anyone anywhere can use search engines to find answers.
  • Transparency is a value both in terms of ESG (Environment/Social/Governance) and also expected and facilitated by the Internet.
  • The ability to participate in public discourse—about products and politicians—gives people a sense of control, resurrects civic engagement, and leverages the wisdom of the crowd.
  • Self-organization is not only a more natural fit for humans but it may also facilitate a move toward more local living economies.


Jarvis, J. (2011). What would Google do? New York: Harper Business. ISBN-13: 978-0061709692

Other publications by the author: 
Public Parts: How Sharing in the Digital Age Improves the Way We Work and Live.