Review: Groundswell–Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies

5 Star, Education (General), Information Operations, Information Society, Information Technology
Amazon Page

The Book Steve Ballmer Needs to Read, May 17, 2008

Charlene Li

Edit to point to elaborative comment at end of review, with URL.

This book was given to me as a gift, along with Leave Us Alone: Getting the Government's Hands Off Our Money, Our Guns, Our Lives, and the fact that the guy giving me the books is one of two smartest people I know caused me to jump these two books to the top of my week-end stack.

I normally do not buy books coming out of Gartner or Forrester or other similar shops that produce cookie cutter products. I am very glad I was given this book. I was deeply impressed from page one and continually gratified and astonished as the level of detail as the book progressed.

This is a graduate course in New Age Marketing, and the only thing this book does not have is the need to address “true costs” and honor the triple-bottom line (profit, economic and social justice, and zero environmental footprint: memes are cradle to cradle, sustainable design, green to gold).

The book's bottom line: it's about LISTENING to PEOPLE, not about the technologies. The Presidential candidate that dismisses all their advisors and creates a national blog to address the ten high-level threats to mankind, the twelve policies that must be harmonized, and how nothing we do matters unless we give Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Iran, Russia, Venezuela, and Wild Cards like the Congo a model for avoiding our mistakes while achieving our quality of life, should win. Then they can come to Chicago on Lincoln's birthday and participate in the Citizens' SUmmit being organized by Joseph McCormick, a co-founder and guiding light for Reuniting America (110 million strong and growing).

I am very impressed by the examples, and the fact that they are not presented in a cutesy box fashion but woven into the text.

The authors provide numbers that show how an investment in executive blogging and nurturing customers and partners can give back at least 150% if not more (I think it is closer to 5 to 1 RoI), and on the basis of the totality of the book, I take their word for it. I take this to the next level and would point out that the US Government investment of our dollars in “Strategic Communication” will continue to be a failure because no amount of “PR” is going to overcome the reality of our overbearing presence everywhere.

Very interesting to me was the authors' information, including tables, that shows that Republicans and Independents are not as active in the Web 2.0 environment, and this should be cause for concern among those who wish to challenge the shiftless Democrats and their smoke and mirror enthusiasm for Senator Obama, who is NOT transparent at all (see my review of Obama – The Postmodern Coup: Making of a Manchurian Candidate.

Because of this book I have decided to shift all of my online activity to, leaving Earth Intelligence Network as an archive. My intent is to inspire individual public intelligence minutemen (and women) who can disclose the true costs of all products and services, and help us bring to bear the full diversity of public opinion on such controversial matters as the proposed $700 billion bailout of Wall Street speculators.

Other books I recommend:
Blessed Unrest: How the Largest Social Movement in History Is Restoring Grace, Justice, and Beauty to the World
A Power Governments Cannot Suppress
Society's Breakthrough!: Releasing Essential Wisdom and Virtue in All the People
The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom
The World Cafe: Shaping Our Futures Through Conversations That Matter
Escaping the Matrix: How We the People can change the world
How to Change the World: Social Entrepreneurs and the Power of New Ideas, Updated Edition
Collective Intelligence: Creating a Prosperous World at Peace

See also the images above under the book cover. Peace–and prosperity–in our time.

Elaborative Comment:

For those that send me emails asking for my usual summary, the bottom line on this book is that I cannot do it, do not want to do it, within the Amazon 1000 work limit. However, am adding a short edit to offer a bit more detail. This book cannot receive justice with a summary. It is literally an operating manual for the intersection of legacy industries and Web 3.0.

Re Steve Ballmer, am just blown away that they are willing to spend $40 billion and up for Yahoo, and evidently have no clue how to build Web 3.0 for under $10 billion, faster, better, cheaper than Google (see my review of Stephen E. Arnold's “Google 2.0: The Calculating Predator” not sold on Amazon, online from Infonortics UK. Here is the URL on how he is now at Plan C and evidently has no idea how to build on all that this book suggests:


There are no fewer than 10 cash-starved companies that are priceless and can be picked up for pennies. For the rest, see my review of “Bloomberg on Bloomberg” where he makes the case for building from the inside instead of buying. He says “Outsiders give you what you ask for, insiders give you waht you need.” Ballmer is assuredly a smart and talented individual, but in many ways he now strikes me as the Henry Kissinger of the private sector: he's become like a moron, unable to LISTEN (see my review of Daniel Ellsberg for a recounting of the converation Ellsberg has with Kissinger, “SECRETS: A Memoire.”) Ben Gilad says much the same thing in Blindspots: CEO's information is invariably filtered (incomplete), biased, late, and by my own experience: less than 20% of what should be presented to them.

Fascinated by three negatives on what would normally be considered a tipping point book. The point is that the “best and the brightest” very often get trapped in their own delusions–the Microsoft business development process DOES NOT WORK. Their process for screening vendors and consultants relies on lower common denominator minds, and cannot handle break-out visions, especially those that call for abandoning the legacy stuff that is not only untenable of on laptop, but not even marginally viable on a hand-held.

Very sorry to have offended several of you, eager to engage. I can change or add to the review, but only if you use the comments section as intended.

With best wishes,

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