Bill Steigerwald

In a previous life Jeff Jarvis was a big-city newspaper editor and TV critic who became the creator and founding editor of Entertainment Weekly magazine. Today Jarvis is best known as the father of BuzzMachine.com, a smart, Internet-loving blog about the dramatic and often damaging affects the digital revolution and new technologies are having on "the old media."

An associate professor and director of the interactive journalism program at the City University of New York's new Graduate School of Journalism, Jarvis has been brutally critical of the newspaper industry for refusing to embrace and adapt its business and journalism models to the Web until it was too late to avoid the severe financial trouble it's in today.

Jarvis recently wrote a book called "What Would Google Do?" (Collins Business) that explains how the business strategies and worldview Google employed to take over the digital world - such as openness, collaboration and trusting and relying on its customers - can benefit other industries and companies. I talked by phone to Jarvis on Thursday, April 16, from New York City.

Q: What does Google do and what's so revolutionary about it?

A: The idea behind the book was not so much to write a book about Google as about the changes in our world - and trying to figure them out by viewing them through the lens of Google's success. I believe the changes in our world are huge and profound right now and we're operating under different rules.

We can see that in Google, for example. Google did not grow to be, according to the Times of London, "the fastest growing company in the world" by trying to buy and own and control everything. Instead they created platforms and networks that enabled others to succeed.

Another example of a new rule is that we operated before in a scarcity economy - where controlling a scarcity was your way to success: I control the press, you don't. I get to say what goes on it. I get to charge you whatever I want to charge you - nah, nah, nah, nah.

That's not Google. Google operates under an abundant economy. They could have had a scarcity with search and charging as much as the market could bear to people who for search for pizza in New York. Instead they charge for performance and they were motivated to put ads everywhere across the Internet. That's another example of a changed rule, so that indicates changes in the world in the Digital Age after the Industrial Age.


Bill Steigerwald

Bill Steigerwald, born and raised in Pittsburgh, is a former L.A. Times copy editor and free-lancer who also worked as a docudrama researcher for CBS-TV in Hollywood before becoming a reporter for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and a columnist Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Bill Steigerwald recently retired from daily newspaper journalism..