This is a rather timely book. Professor Sandel does a great job of laying out the ethical, moral and economic arguments, but requires the reader, at least until the very end, to connect the dots and decide what is right. I really appreciate this because it allows one to draw one's own moral conclusions and do some of the work required to decide what is right and wrong about the way markets have shaped society. This has the potential to turn readers from passive head-nodders to active participants in change. One minor knit-pick: as an advertising person, I feel that calling into question the morality of certain kinds of adverting (casino tattoos on the forehead, turning one's home or car into a billboard) somewhat cheapens the arguments in this book. Advertising takes many forms and it's really easy (and a little lazy) to point to the more out-there forms of the trade and call it into question. Yes, it's morally wrong to prey on the economic situations of people that need to get tattoos or car wraps in order to feed their families, fund their drug habits or pay their mortgages. We all know this. The thing about advertising is, it's a self-policing business. If the general public feels that a specific form of advertising is repugnant, it goes away pretty quickly for the simple reason that a message in that media will be met with disdain instead of sales. That said, I found this book, as I have with other books by the author, completely engrossing, thought-provoking and stimulating.
I read this piece — which was written before 9/11, before Google and Facebook, before the iPad, before the cloud, and before the browser wars ended — as a historic document. And in general I was surprised on two levels. First, that most big companies, all having embraced the internet as the game-changing paradigm that it is, still haven't gotten a clue about how to treat or talk to their customers. And two, how much of what the authors suggest and envision has been proven correct. The bits they got wrong — like the importance of "zines" and the pervasiveness of "extranets" — are mildly risible. Perhaps its time to update this manifesto. I'd say it's a worthwhile endeavor.
Best inside look at Facebook I've been able to find. You can skip the interview at the end with Randi Zuckerberg. Its long and covers info already provided in the book itself.