A Map of the World 2.0 Canon

I have been reviewing a good many books that fall into the loose category of ‘World 2.0.’ Books that attempt to organize our understanding of the impact of Web 2.0 and social media. Structure the blooming, buzzing confusion, so to speak. So I thought I’d go meta and attempt to visualize this emerging canon. This graphic started as a tangent while I was making notes for my review of Tom Hayes’ Jump Point. Here’s the graphic (click for full-size), with an explanation and links to reviews below.


(Feel free to use the graphic for your own purposes. Linkbacks appreciated).

(This post and diagram were updated on June 11)

The Logic

All books in the canon are either broad or deep. There hasn’t yet been a ‘gestalt’ book (fiction or nonfiction) that does both (full disclosure, I am attempting to write one — the project is in stealth mode; send me a note if you want to know more). Among the broad-strokes books, Friedman’s The World is Flat is central, whether you love it or hate it. Whether or not you buy the arguments or the metaphor, it has framed the discourse for the entire body of literature that has come since. It spans a vastly more ambitious scope than any book since — public, private, enterprise, SMB, technology, culture, economics, globalization and sociology. It is fundamental for another reason: the great watershed seems to be enterprise-vs.-consumer markets, and it is the only truly broad treatment that spans both and goes beyond.

Wikinomics has likely cemented its place as the dominant enterprise broad-strokes classic, and Jump Point is a pretty good consumer-markets treatment. These three books anchor the broad end of the literature. The pizza slices, with radial captions, are widely regarded as the best-of-breed treatments of specific narrower issues.

Remember, as George Box said, all models are wrong, but some models are useful. I hope this is useful.

The Reviews and One-Line Abstracts

I am linking to my reviews where I have them, and to Amazon where I don’t. For a book without a review (the starred ones), if you think you have a good one, send me a link. I’ll eventually scrounge around myself.

First, the horizontals

  1. The World Is Flat by Thomas Friedman*
  2. Wikinomics by Don Tapscott and Anthony Williams
  3. Jump Point by Tom Hayes

Now for the pizza slices, clockwise from 12 o’ clock, with descriptions of what each covers

  1. Workforce 2.0: Free Agent Nation by Dan Pink* covers the changing nature of the labor markets
  2. Thinking 2.0: Whole New Mind by Dan Pink covers the styles of thinking that are likely to dominate
  3. Marketing 2.0: Groundswell by Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff, which bumps Naked Conversations by Robert Scoble and Shel Israel* to second place. Covers the impact of blogs on marketing and other market-facing roles.
  4. Intelligence 2.0: The Wisdom of Crowds by James Surowiecki is the Bible of crowdsourcing, but usually used to analyze consumer market phenomena like Wikipedia more than enterprise equivalents.
  5. Law 2.0: The Future of the Internet–And How to Stop It by Jonathan Zittrain. The definitive treatment of the legal and IP culture. Something by Lawrence Lessig also probably belongs as a runner-up. Any nominations?
  6. Attitude 2.0: The Age of Speed by Vince Poscente manages to grab a small but very important slice — the acceleration-of-everything aspect
  7. Organization 2.0: The somewhat creaky and rusty The Cathedral & the Bazaar by Eric Raymond* remains the best treatment of Open Source models of organizing work.
  8. Technology 2.0: The Big Switch by Nicholas Carr covers what is happening to the underlying technology. This one was hard for me, since I wanted to make it a horizontal ‘circle’ layer but couldn’t justify it. It remains a pizza slice, albeit a big and important one.
  9. Geography 2.0: Who’s Your City by Richard Florida, bringing to a conclusion his long exploration of the creative class, explores the new nature of physical geography. It is a very broad pizza slice — another one that almost made it as a foundational broad book.
  10. Demographics 2.0: Generation Blend by Rob Salkowitz is the best treatment I’ve seen so far of the demographic aspects — 4 generations in one cataclysmic time
  11. Economics 2.0: Chris Anderson’s Free (currently a Wired cover story) is going to be a bestseller and will likely be the classic on the economic aspects of World 2.0.
  12. Innovation 2.0: Open Innovation by Henry Chesbrough has been the classic on enterprise innovation 2.0 for a long time, but could now be threatened, since its coverage is beginning to be slightly obsolete. Write another Henry (Open Business Models didn’t cut it!)
  13. Management 2.0: Competing on Analytics by Tom Davenport and Jeanne Harris is a sleeper hit that the more iPod-happy consumer end of the literature hasn’t paid much attention to — it is fast becoming the bible of data-driven management for an era of data abundance (data scarcity has been the dominant unwritten assumption of much management writing pre-2000). It is likely to be supplanted by a broader book though.
  14. Market 2.0: The Long Tail by Chris Anderson* is the anchor text of modern market strategy for a world driven by hyper-personalization and customization for niches.
  15. Work 2.0: The Dip by Seth Godin is seriously important for a key reason — it is not packaged as such, but it is actually the best treatment of what to do about the attention-scarcity economy, even though that is not the book’s focal point. It squeezes out Davenport’s more direct treatment, The Attention Economy.* It is, in a sense, also a sideways-antithesis to The Long Tail.
  16. Brand 2.0: Made to Stick is probably the only credible treatment of the nature of viral information ‘stickiness’, but will likely be displaced.
  17. Career 2.0: And circling back to Dan Pink, Johnny Bunko is going to be the career workbook of the go-getters in Gen Y.

Before you ask, I’ve properly read nearly all of these, with only 3-4 being fast skims.

Further Notes on the Canon and Map

  • Dan Pink’s work is at the top in ‘True North’ position, because I kinda think of him as the uber zeitgeist-reader and compass of the day. Malcolm Gladwell doesn’t feature at all on the map because I think he fundamentally doesn’t ‘get’ the 2.0 world, The Tipping Point being a brilliant misread in my opinion. Don’t apply the compass-point metaphor to the rest of the map though — South isn’t backward-looking! Everything on there is important.
  • I decided not to include narrative treatments in the canon, and stick to conceptual books. Certainly, individual and corporate biographies (Google, Amazon, Jeff Bezos, Matt Mullenweg…) would constitute a complementary canon, but that would be another map.
  • If you like, you can think of TechCrunch, Wired and other sources as either a bleeding fringe to my wheel, or a seething chaos under it. I’ll eventually redraw the graphic to represent those, if there is interest.
  • No academic work features because I think no academic work deserves to yet.
  • The map reveals some clear gaps, at least in mind: we need books on Government 2.0, Education 2.0 and Law 2.0. Surprisingly we also need a Media 2.0 (I think, finally, McLuhan’s Understanding Media has run out of steam; we need a fresh take).

Got any more candidates you think I should include? Comment, or better still, trackback with your own alternate canon. I’d call this a blog meme and tag specific people, except I don’t think many bloggers will want to recreate my graphic. But if you do want to, go right ahead!

If you are a writer/publicist and you think your new book deserves to be canonized, send me a note and I’ll send you my address so you can get a review copy to me.

Get Ribbonfarm in your inbox

Get new post updates by email

New post updates are sent out once a week

About Venkatesh Rao

Venkat is the founder and editor-in-chief of ribbonfarm. Follow him on Twitter


  1. And one more world 2.0 book: this one on Activism 2.0 — Here Comes Everybody, by Clay Shirky.

  2. This is a pretty amazing overview – thanks.

  3. I’ll post here books which I’ll probably include if I ever get to a second version of this.

    Charlene Li’s Groundswell: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies probably belongs in here… did a quick scan last night, and might eventually get around to reading it and passing judgment on canonization-worthiness. Please post your adds in the comments too, and suggestions/critiques of the visualization…

    But I’d say we’re reaching diminishing returns for the broad works… need more ‘vertical’ works now, and deep drill-down case studies.

  4. I’d probably choose Join The Conversation by Joseph Jaffe as a more comprehensive view of how marketing/PR/community etc have been changed, and how it works with an acknowledgement of the concerns of business and management.
    It certainly sits on my bookshelf alongside The Long Tail, and Wikinomics…

  5. Venkat!!!

    I couldnt possibly resist to add value to this – I stumbled across it inadvertently through one of your posts on NGenera!

    If you think about all the major trends – as proclaimed by Tapscott re N Gener and the rise of the web 2.0 and its sub branches – since tech 2.0, management 2.0 etc are all intrinsically related to the umberalla term of the social web 2.0 ( or in effect positively correlated with its emancipation) – you really have missed out on TEAM 2.0

    Just thought Id add that the TEAM 2.0 element in the WORLD 2.0 greater ecosystem will internalize tenets of ‘self organising systems’ due to the complexity inherent in all the sub-system sets. TEAM 2.0 integrates dynamic, living entities that co-exist, co-evolve and stimulate the environment in which it functions. The requirement is far beyond the capabilities of the high performing team slash self managed team concept!

    I believe a strong contender to demonstrate TEAM 2.0 would be BIOTEAMING

    I have a review here at Amazon of the BIOTEAMS book

    and Ken Thompson’s blog (father of the bioteams school of thought) is at http://www.bioteams.com

    – thealphaswarmer| mAx

  6. I’ve updated the map to include Groundswell by Li and Bernoff, and ‘The Future of the Internet and How to Stop it’ by Zittrain. Haven’t yet decided where to place Clay Shirky and Joseph Jaffe… recommendations?

  7. Captain Nemo says

    how to stop the bloviation?

  8. Nemo: You can’t. Your best bet is to tune it out :)

  9. Thanks for the great breakdown of 2.0 lit and terms. I linked to it from my new post about 2.0.

    Here are more books that are related to the power of crowds in today’s culture.
    The Starfish & the Spider
    Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us
    The Tipping Point

    I would argue that Gladwell’s Tipping Point from 2002 is both broad and deep and relevant to this topic. He covers this phenomenon in depth and in a variety of arenas, from criminal behavior to consumer trends.

    Thanks again.

  10. This is great!

    I haven’t read his stuff, but I hear good things about William Eggers as a possible “Government 2.0” guy.