I liked some of the thoughts in Rework. The idea that set company policies equal organizational scar tissue is spot on. Planning = guessing is an original thought. And some of the hiring practices ??? like not hiring "supermen" and working in the position you are filling before you fill it ??? make good sense.
Then again, there are a number of ideas in Rework that are just plain wrong. Smaller isn't always better. Yes, if you make software, small works because once you develop something, the growth comes from incremental sales. And your channel is virtually frictionless. But what if what you sell is time and experience? Then, the fewer bodies you have working, the less money you make. And what if you make pencil erasers? You still need to hire bodies to manufacture, transport and sell your product.
Another idea that's just wrong is the notion that it's better to write a blog and rely on free social media than to use traditional media like PR and advertising. This may be true of some products, and it's especially true of web-based products, but many businesses, like retail, food and manufactured goods, could not function without traditional media. It really depends upon what you are selling.
On top of all this, many of the "observations" that the authors make about business today ??? how meetings are toxic and sampling a product is a good practice, and saying ASAP is meaningless and counterproductive ??? are right out of a Dilbert cartoon. Without he humor. Business people, at least the smart ones, know these things already. There's no insight offered here. Yet the authors treat these subjects like they're the first people to ever think of them.
From the number of times the authors used the words "suck," "sh-t" and "f--k," and the brash, sanctimonious, we're-brilliant-and-your-a-moron tone of the text (and perhaps the narrator shaded that part a bit) the reader is left with a feeling that Fried and Heinemeir are nothing more than a couple of young guys who think they have the business world figured out. But they really don't.
For the record, I use 37Signals products. I think they are brilliant, clean and powerful. But just because a company does a few things right, that does not make them experts on everything.
King's storytelling is so approachable and infectious that one easily can overlook the minor play kinks. I wish there had a little more spine chilling ghost action, but overall, I really enjoyed this piece.
The first-person perspective of this book is priceless, and the tips for powering through weight loss without losing your mind (like all battles, weight loss is partly mental) are also quite valuable. Thanks for being the human Guinea pig, Drew.
The subject matter, style and no-holds-barred whimsey of this book reminds me so much of Adams, I have a hard time thinking that the two were not drinking buddies or something. Hodgman's performance is stellar.
I had never read Tolkien as a kid. I thought it was time, after being bombarded with Hobbit references, to rectify that fact. The Hobbit is a quick scan and a fun, imaginative story, well told.
Okay, now I'm more paranoid than ever that humanity will be ravaged by a super virus. This book is gripping. Not just because the story is true, but because it is extremely well told.
I loved everything about this book. The characters were interesting and likable/hatable. The story was well told, with plenty of unexpected twists and fresh ideas. I really like the alternative history meets science fiction/fantasy convention. I was sad that it ended, but glad to know there was another book in the series. I will gobble that one up very soon.
I personally pledge allegiance to the Grimnoir.
Also, I want to say something about Bronson Pinchot. The guy is an amazing, amazing narrator. Sure, he was fun to watch on TV and in the movies. But reading books like this one, as well as others (Matterhorn springs to mind) seems, to me at least, to be the ideal expression of his particular performer's genius. He is working his butt off here and as a listener, I can't thank him enough. He can create a dozen characters, male and female, and each one stands on their own sonic merits. I work in the audio medium from time to time and I know how difficult such a thing is to accomplish, and I just have to say, bravo, Mr. Pinchot. You make it look/sound easy.
This book contains a rather childish, simplistic and slanted view of our economy. And if you already understand economics on anything but a 8th grade level, you can pretty much skip it. I found that 80% of the information contained in the book is irrefutable, but a solid 20% is the product of faulty right-wing political thinking. Some examples:
The authors say that government is rife with corruption and waste. While corruption and waste do exist in government, it is likely not fair to paint with such a broad brush given the spending cuts and efficiencies that have happened over the past five years. Government spending is down. While corporate corruption seems to be accepted or overlooked by the authors.
The authors state that markets are the best way to make an economy grow. But they conveniently overlook government programs like the GI Bill, the Marshall Plan and the Interstate Highway act that had massive impacts on the US and world economy.
The authors also largely overlook the substantial greed and corruption in the private sector and discount the notion that there is a fundamental imbalance between the haves and have nots in our society largely caused by the people in their own industry. They are very good at pointing to a problem, and assigning blame (and bringing the same old gold standard argument up again), but they have no true thoughts on what to do to make the US economy more vibrant and diverse and equitable. If they think we will go back to 1920s monetary policy, they are mistaken.
And when the authors, who also narrated this book, started imitating the late Teddy Kennedy while portraying a corrupt politician, I had to shut the book off. Pete and Andy, you're no Teddy Kennedy.
I can deal with the whole economy based on fish on a desert island concept, but they take it way too far. And after an hour or so, it just gets annoying. What I can't take for a minute is the same level of simplicity and black and white thinking applied to social economics and the inequality in international markets. This book is too full of faulty thinking and slanted viewpoints to take seriously.
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.
I really liked this book. One of the most compelling and telling facts that I took away from it is that the people who create processed foods, in general, actively shy away from consuming them in their own diet. The history of processed foods is well told here. The moral of the story: try not to eat foods that require chemists, engineers and lawyers to produce. You'll be happier and live longer.
I work in the area of creative commerce and nearly all of the points made in this book about stickiness and compelling content on the internet were true 20 years ago in other media. The rules of engagement with consumers and audiences have not changed. Just the battlefield has. This alone is good to know, but does not justify the time one must dedicate to listening to this piece — a mixed bag, from which I'm not sure I gleaned many points that I can use in my daily work. It's just more of the same old pseudo-experts attempting to write "rules" on how creative people catch lightning in a bottle. Creative people, on the other hand, do not need those rules, as they know innately how to compel.
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