While at SXSW, I picked up a copy of What Would Google Do?, the new book by Jeff Jarvis. As I usually do, I opened to a random page inside, and started reading. I laughed out loud at something on the part, and I heard someone say “I love when someone does that.” I looked up, and saw Jeff Jarvis.

We got to talking, and he asked what I did. I told him about my role at HP, and how I’m trying to expand everyone’s mindset that for customer support, we have got to look past just social media and into the realm of implicit feedback. We chatted some more, and I ended up buying the book.
Only later did I realize that it was Jeff Jervis who caused “Dell hell” by posting on his blog about Dell’s poor customer service, and which totally turned Dell around and got them heavily involved in social media. Of course I knew all about Dell’s history, I had just forgotten the name of that one key individual who started it all: Jeff Jarvis.
I highly recommend his book. I’ve got enough annotations and folded pages for few dozen blog posts. I will mention one right now. Jeff Jarvis has finally explained the term platform in the context of Web 2.0 in a way that it become very concrete for me. He writes:

Google has many platforms: Blogger for publishing content, Google Docs and Google Calendar for office collaboration, YouTube for videos, Picasa for photos, Google Analytics to track sites traffic, Google Groups for communities, AdSense for revenue. Google Maps is so good that Google could have put it on the web at maps.google.com and told us to come there to use it, and we would have. But Google also opened its maps so sites can embed them. A hotel can post a Google Map with directions. Suburbanites can embed maps on their blogs to point shoppers to garage sales. Google uses maps to enhance its own search and to serve relevant local ads; it is fast becoming the new Yellow Pages.”

Contrast this to a site like Yahoo: Yahoo creates and aggregates content to create a destination. Google doesn’t create content, it creates a platform for others to create, share, link, and network their own content. Jarvis writes, “A platform enables. It helps others build value. Any company can be a platform…. Platforms help users create products, businesses, communities and networks of their own.”