My foreword to WWGD’s Greek translation [+Video]


This translation of “What would Google do?” by Jeff Jarvis is being published at a very crucial, historic moment for the world and Greece in particular, which is going through a major crisis in its economy and values. On the level of creativity, business, public administration and finally society itself, the country feels it has reached an impasse. While there is no shortage of people talking about opportunities, very few of them speak in specifics. The book you are about to read manages to be very specific since the writer focuses on solutions and not problems, and where others foresee disasters he detects major opportunities.

“What would Google do?” is not just another book concerned with the relationship between business and the Internet. It is about society’s relation with the Internet and how each and every one of us relates to its bewildering rate of change. Jarvis speaks the language of the blogger: a simple, direct language without elaboration. Essentially, what he offers us is a manual, a map which will help us in the years to come. It is a cohesive attempt to analyze a technological miracle whose influence is felt everywhere. The huge changes that have taken place in the age of the Internet have stimulated journalists like Jarvis to make observations, analyze models and to apply them experimentally on new levels.

However, Jarvis is no ordinary observer. He participates actively in developments, living and working in the so-called computer “cloud”. In the course of translating his book, I became aware that much of what is said has already become part of our everyday life, and has been absorbed into the reality of a world whose relation with the Internet is now on an everyday, intimate level. As a blogger of several years’ standing, I have noticed how I am changing in ways I could never have foreseen. Yet up to now, I, like most others, have exploited only a tiny part of the amazing possibilities that the Internet has to offer. The field is open and fertile. Jarvis has used a model company as a guide to the wealth of new ideas and endeavors constantly appearing on the Internet. Google, as a company symbolic of all these changes, cannot fail to function as the finest, the most clearly defined example. It only remains for us to discover how we can re-invent ourselves using its valuable lessons as our basis. Its success has been no accident. Google is the expression of the energies as well as the limitations and problems defining our age. There is no issue on which Google can be ignored.

The book offers inspiration not only to the business world but also to journalists, educators, artists, scientists, to everyone in fact. It refers to new ways of thinking and functioning, and a new morality. As Jarvis points out, the features of this new age and its morality are very specific and receive thorough examination in the pages of his book. His analysis offers fascinating prospects for new starts on many levels and it should be compulsory reading for anyone involved in the productive or creative sector. Every business person, professional, investor or simply inquiring mind must be informed about what is happening on the Internet and become familiar with the inevitable changes taking place. It offers us enormous opportunities for the strengthening and deepening of democracy, meritocracy, transparency and freedom. This may sound pretentious or even naïve, but actual examples from the Internet are showing us that new models based on abundance, openness and transparency are within our grasp.

Jarvis does not mourn the passing of our old world; he prefers to throw light on the potential of the new one. And given that things are changing at such a pace and that the changes are so deep and all-embracing, everyone is falling under their influence. Those who turn a deaf ear and stay frozen in the past will be left behind. One virtue of this book is the simple language used to “decode” new Internet practices. The digital world is not the privileged domain of an elite. Anyone with a simple connection and a computer is able, if not to start a revolution, at least to propose a new example, which in the future may be followed by many others. In addition, the target may not be a question of quantity. In this context, I consider the book a necessity for young people who want to create, be entrepreneurial or build something in Greece, but who have become disillusioned by entrenched attitudes and social structures. I believe we no longer have an alibi. We have instead the knowledge to act upon our wishes and needs both individually and collectively. As far as I am concerned, Jarvis’ book has been a great source of inspiration, and I hope it will inspire you, too.

At many points in the book, a reader less familiar with technology or specifically with American culture may encounter some difficulty. The notes I have added to the text may be of some help, however, they may also distract the reader. To be more in keeping with the spirit of the book, I would suggest using Google or some other tool to answer doubts or questions regarding to the ideas and information that you will read here. Finally, should you wish to make any comment on the translation of the book, or to discuss anything with me, the address of my blog is www.andriotakis.gr

Happy reading!

Manolis Andriotakis

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