Johannes Gutenberg was our first geek, the original technology entrepreneur, who had to grapple with all the challenges a Silicon Valley startup faces today. Jeff Jarvis tells Gutenberg's story from an entrepreneurial perspective, examining how he overcame technology hurdles, how he operated with the secrecy of a Steve Jobs, but then shifted to openness, how he raised capital and mitigated risk, and how, in the end, his cash flow and equity structure did him in. This is also the inspiring story of a great disruptor - which is what makes Gutenberg the patron saint of entrepreneurs.
Jeff Jarvis is the author of Public Parts: How Sharing in the Digital Age Improves the Way We Work and Live and What Would Google Do?: Reverse-Engineering the Fastest Growing Company in the History of the World. He directs the Tow-Knight Center for Entrepreneurial Journalism at the City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism.
This essay is a must reading for any technologist or entrepreneur. Jarvis does a fantastic job of reframing the story of Gutenberg from the modern point of view of Silicon Valley and the analogy not only works but is inspiring. Understanding Gutenberg's trials and tribulations in terms of the technology, the capital he needed, and the deals he cut are fascinating. Perhaps most importantly, Jarvis notes that because of losing his invention to his investor Gutenberg began to teach the world about how to use his invention. The first open source revolution.
It was a pleasure to listen to it.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
But short and sweet. I'm a Jeff Jarvis fan though and through. Thanks for this.
Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?
Sure, if they're interested in the history of the printing press and/or disruptive technologies.
Did the narration match the pace of the story?
Do you think Gutenberg the Geek needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?
Nope. The proper next step would be to read a more drawn out history of Gutenberg.
Any additional comments?
Some of the entrepreneurial comparisons to Silicon Valley are tiresome, though that's probably my own personal distaste for the economic and cultural canonization of tech CEOs. At the same time, comparisons made to technologies like the Internet and web search (e.g., Google) make this book (well, essay) worth reading. Most interesting to me is how the printing press not only heralded an unprecedented, widespread circulation of ideas, but also that many of those ideas were seen as unsavory, unscrupulous, or even illegal. Today, we see the similar trends in social networks and easy-access publishing tools that give ideas an immediate global reach (e.g., ISIL propaganda). Decades passed before the effects of the printing press were even partially fathomed by those whose lives it touched. When will the dust of the information age finally settle?