The Mesh

Why the Future of Business is Sharing
Lisa Gansky
ISBN: 9781591843719

I received this book in the mail, apparently as a result of being on one of Seth Godin’s Linchpin lists.

The concept Gansky explains is in the book is important — she’s talking about seizing the opportunity to do things in new ways that improve on old ways of doing things because they are cheaper and/or more environmentally conscious and/or about generating revenue by adding value to the economy and communities, not extracting it. She offers example after example of socially connected, smart, being built from the ground up businesses.

If you want to learn about how entrepreneurs are taking advantage of pervasive web connectivity, social media, and mobile devices to grow businesses, you should read The Mesh. Gansky presents a compelling vision and believable evidence that it is not just a trend to watch out for in the future, but is something that works today. (Zipcar, anyone?)

Mesh businesses are … using what we’ve collectively learned about what works in a Web business for digital products and applying it to the sharing of physical products. This is the next phase. The mobile Web helps users locate a product to share, or people to share with. In most cases, a person actually has to get up from her chair to participate — it’s a physical experience, not just a virtual one. By linking the Web, mobile technology, and physical venues and products, the relevant offers can be locatted in a specific place and time. Just as someone uses the OpenTable app to make a last-minute restaurant reservtion on a mobile phone, he can make a date with a bike, tool, or car.

The last third of the book is filled with reference materials: a directory of Mesh businesses and references. Even though I am a dead-tree book person, I can see how these reference materials are much better suited to an online format. Seeing URLs in books, while good in the sense that they are providing links, is annoying in that they are tedious to read and type in. Fortunately Gansky has also put the directory on the web, where it can grow, instead of remaining static.

I’d recommend taking a look at the website, and then deciding if you need the dead tree version. One thing it did make me think of that a physical book, particularly a hardcover, is still often considered the most credible way to distribute important ideas — whether or not it is the best format.

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