A review of The Power of the Network

It isn’t easy to theorize about social media today, simply because we are reaching a stage where the messages are often the same. Repetition is pointless – not only can it cost you readers (especially in the case of a blog), but it will make you less credible. 

Lulu.com has enabled bloggers the world over to publish their most poopular blog posts (or even their whole blogs, if they so choose!) in book form. From the days of Gutenberg’s printing press to lulu.com, we’ve certainly come a long way. 
David Cushman’s The Power of the Network, a collection of white papers from his blog, from that point of view passes the first test – that of having enough meat in it. The best chapter in my opinion is his explanation and exploration of Reed’s Law and the Long Tail, in Chapter 7. David elaborates on Reed’s Law, or Group Forming Network Theory, by first relating it to Sarnoff’s Law (initially used with reference to TV – the value of a network growing in proportion to the number of viewers) and then Metcalfe’s Law (the value of a network growing in proportion to the number of nodes in it). He uses simple examples from the digital world, like Twitter, to explain the greater potential of Reed’s Law in collaborative networks of shared purpose. David writes in a manner that is easy for anyone to grasp. I’m very interested in seeing how he can further explore this concept. 
In Chapter 3, ‘What now for advertising and marketing’, he talks about the new rules of marketing. His expertise as a practitioner of social media comes to the fore here – he speaks about widget marketing, for example, which is something I heard about at Ad:Tech London in September this year (the post was written in January). In that sense, David predicted its potential as a marketing tool ahead of many others. 
The other ideas in the book are fairly straightforward and mostly deal with the growth of communities and herd theory (as discussed widely by Mark Earls, for example). One chapter was originally a presentation at a conference and I got the feeling while reading it that it would have been best left that way, though the ideas in it were good. Transferring blog posts and presentations into book format is a tricky issue. My suggestion would be to focus on the ideas that people would want to read as a book, and either leave the rest as is or use them merely as a starting point for a chapter that can be further explored in a book. 
Twitter with its 140-character limitation, blogs with their larger content capacity and Slideshare for Powerpoint presentations, are all vastly different animals. As more people bring books based on their blogs out, I’ll be keeping an eye on how they aggregate content and focus on ideas that can stand the test of the written form. 
The Power of the Network, however, as a quick read, can be recommended for most of its content. 

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