I'm halfway through this book, written by a marketing exec, and much to my astonishment, I find his perspective on human behaviour both utterly fascinating and resonating really strongly with my experience and thoughts about the nature of online communities, how and why they arise, the value of reputation in a flat economy (such as the fannish community, although he never references it -- I would love to know what he would think of it).
I was recommended this book by a colleague who I'd been discussing the virtues and perils of viral marketing, the stupidity of astroturf blogs, and things like the flocking behaviour of people which tilts a good product into a runaway success. Earls has cogently and thoughtfully written many of the things I have thought, but from a marketing perspective that is frankly invaluable for the credibility that it gives his insights into the various things.
He apologises up front for being academic and dry and full of complicated theory, and frankly, that gives me a startlingly low opinion of his target audience.
I read through several of the middle chapters nodding to myself and scribbling. Brilliant stuff for anyone interested in the rise of social networks and social software and social intelligence (collective, collaborative behaviours and intelligence -- think Wikipedia), in the building of communities -- whether based around brand or some other thing, or in human behaviour, particularly anyone unconvinced by the psychologists insistence that there is no such thing as 'crowd psychology' only individual psychology.