Book Review: The Mesh by Lisa Gansky

I’m currently working for an advertising agency in Brick Lane.  They’ve got a great stack of books lying about (the product of a rarely mentioned book-swapping culture) so I decided to pick up a book with a fancy cover for my latest read: The Mesh by Lisa Gansky.

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The basic premise behind the book is there’s a new business movement  around “sharing”.  We’ve got to the point where materialism only gets us so far; when we acquire things cost of ownership is high and we don’t necessarily take our full advantage of them, they then depreciate rapidly.  Enter the concept of sharing – you use something for as long as you need when you need it and pay only for that use.

That’s the concept right there.  I like it.  Pretty straightforward and very logical.

There are plenty of good examples cited (such as car sharing) and the author puts together a list of business which encapsulate this approach.

Reading the book I couldn’t help thinking that the points could easily be covered within a blog article, or a sequence of blog articles rather than a full-on hardcover book.  Also, the premise seems to be peddled as if it’s some kind of revolutionary concept when really it’s been around for years.  The idea of labelling it as ‘meshing’ or business being ‘mesh businesses’ sounds a little cheesy.

The most value I found from the book is the author’s recounting of the recent history of web commerce.  She writes of how the first wave of internet companies focused on sharing information between parties i.e. selling an email service.  The next wave involved companies figuring out ways of making money by selling specific information to 3rd parties.  An example given is Google selling a search terms i.e. the term ‘deadbolt’ being sold to an online hardware store that offers locks.  The wave after that involved social networking empowering customers to become more active in shaping products and services.  Businesses not pushing stocks of inventory but rather offering goods and services in the time, place and manner that they want.

One thing I particularly liked was the author’s condemnation of the throwaway culture, by specifying that Mesh design is Durable (products that last longer), Flexible (Products that can cover more than just one function), Reparable (standardized parts and transparent design), Sustainable (Reusing materials and reduces waste).

The biggest benefit of reading the book was the effect it had on me; it created an impetus for thinking more creatively about my own business venture that’s getting off the ground.  Probably not so much the book content but the passion the author instilled in me.

You can read more about the book from the author directly here:  http://lisagansky.com/writes

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