Book Review: Getting Real by 37signals

Getting RealA few weeks ago, I found 37signals’ book “Getting Real” online.  I had heard/watched DHH’s infamous “How to Make Money Online” presentation so the idea of a book written by the people at 37signals sounded interesting.  The cool thing is that you can read the entire book online, for free.  After reading about one third of it online I decided I need my own physical copy to keep on my bookshelf.  Seriously it’s that good.

If you are in the technology business and you work on web applications (or even non-web applications), you need to give “Getting Real” a good solid read.  It is filled with principles, that while might seem strange at first, are excellent rules to live by in this “Web 2.0” world.  The ideas of “underdoing your competition” and “release early and often” might seem strange in a business that has long believed in outdoing your competitors and waiting till the product is “perfect” (which can only be achieved with 10 managers, 50 developers, business analysts, and about 1,000 pages of useless documents) but in a place like the world wide web, mean little.

The main arguments presented in the book aim to keep things small, easily adaptable, simple, and even on occasion releasing crudely looking products (with the intent of cleaning up over time) are things that I have been discussing with a friend of mine for many years.  The book is in some ways an anti-big business book, and isn’t to be considered a rule book, but it is a game changer.  It’s ideas will cause some people to laugh, laud, and dismiss it entirely; for these people they will do so at their own peril.  This book causes one to think about an internet business in a different way.  It’s really not about the pumping up the stock option price so you can sell to Google, it’s about how to run a successful business on the internet so you don’t have to sell to some company with deep pockets.  It’s about starting and running a business and how (as a small company) you have an advantage over your larger competitors.

Overall I throughly enjoyed reading this book.  The essays are short (less than 2 pages in most cases), concise and get their point across quite well in their minimal space.  If you’re looking at doing web applications either in an existing company, or you are considering starting your own, this book is a “can’t miss” read.

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