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Best New Thinking Winner 2010

Bookshop – Viral Marketing Books

 

Wisdom of Crowds, James Surowicki Abacus 2004
Beautifully written - this is a great introduction to the idea of markets and collective thinking which surpasses the powers of the individuals within that market or crowd. There's a lot packed into this book and I would say it is required reading so probably will have to add it to classics before too long. Starting with Francis Galton's experiment in 1906 Suowicki shows how market thinking has grown in influence. And the principles behind it. set up properly crowds can indeed make great decisions. Conventionally western culture fears crowds and considers that groups of people are more likely to behave irrationally and destructively. Wisdom of crowds shows some very different possibilities. The internet research agency Brainjuicer has based a couple of its products on this book. Mark Earls the Herd Meister must have got a lot of the examples listed here. One of the most intriguing and undeveloped parts of the book is the attack on small group decision making. Small groups make even wose decisions than individuals according to Surowicki. Because of hierarchy and the desire to please. Which rather raises the question about how so much of our decision making is made by task forces of people. Thoroughly recommended.
 
 
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Wikonomics, Don Tapscott and Athony Williams Atlantic 2006
Hmm well the topic - the power of human collaboration as evidenced by wikipaedia and web 2.0 couldn't be more relevant. But this book and I developed a thorough going dislike for one another. It took me a real effort to get back into it and finish it. The problem is that the book is masively overwritten and the turgid prose and sheer repetition of the core ideas ground me down. Not that there isn't good material in it and lots of case studies but it just took too damm long. Use with care as reference - dive don't graze.
 
 
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Herd, Mark Earls
review and interview with the author in In their own words
 
 
Blink, Malcolm Gladwell 2006
I read the back cover and made up my mind about the book instantly! Blink and you'll miss it.Just kidding. This is a wonderful topic and bound to be popular with the agency world when we often have to work so fast and desperately want to know that when we haven't time to find all the evidence and work it all out that we're still likely to be right and insightful and possibly brilliant at the same time. You're knocking on an Malcolm. The book is written in the same engaging style as the Tipping Point - great stories engagingly told and before you're really grasped the point he's off to another story which seems totally different. And he leads you to the end without you're really gettinga chance to challenge his thinking. That's how Tipping Point worked and here he's done it again. Like Tipping point he gives you clues but by the time you get to the end you have no more idea about how to be intuitive than you learned how to creative word of mouth - he describes but doesn't prescribe. But it's an entertaining journey all the same. But there are points where you just want to stop the relentless flow and challenge the logic. Take the account of the 4 police officers who gun down an unarmed man in the Bronx. We go off into a segue all about mind reading using facial expressions and into a study of autism based on the look on the face of an autistic subject watcing Whos Afraid of Virginia Woolf? And Gladwell used this one piece of observation of a single subject to draw conclusions about autism in general and autistic behaviour in the normal population. Surely it doesn't take an extensive academic study to conclude that 4 armed men chasing a suspect into a tenement lobby dark are likely to fear their quarry will be armed and dangerous and quick to open fire as a result. It doesn't make them autistic it just makes them scared.
 
 
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Extraordinary Popular Delusions, Charles Mackay 1841! Wordsworth
Review to follow when I've managed to plough through it! About halfway end of Jan 2004!
 
 
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The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell 2000 Little Brown and Company
This is a really interesting and very easy read about how epidemics or crazes spread. The author identifies personality types, message sequencing and elements of the context reaching tipping points to produce discontinuous change. I would describe it a provocative more than anything. I didn't finish the book knowing how to start an epidemic. But it did make me think about the "lumpiness" of the audience for communications. Some viewers/listeners are much more important than others because they carry the message on. In advertising this lumpiness is generally ignored. In the age of 1 to 1 we can't afford to ignore these differences. This book asks a lot of the right questions. I don't think it has found the answers.
 
 
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Unleashing the Ideavirus, Seth Godin2000 Do you Zoom Coy
Picks up where Malcolm Gladwell finished with the Tipping Point and is a lot more practical than Gladwell in what you actually do to harness the power of word of mouth. It is also unique in that not only can you download hardcopy from http://www.ideavirus.com/ perfect for sampling or even not paying a penny if you can handle the guilt but those of you with a Palm Pilot can download a copy that runs on that - so how funky can you get?!!
 
 
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The Anatomy of Buzz, Emmanuel Rosen 2000 Harper Collins
Another viral marketing book. Haven't read it yet. Apparently it is strong on casestudies and weak on how-tos but good for anecdotage!
 
 
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