As you can see on the sidebar, I have been reading Seth Godin’s Tribes. I vacillate between promoting books like this—books that do a good job of inciting but are more shallow on hard data—and discouraging their propagation in light of more deeply founded arguments. This moving to action that like books offer is most helpful when trying to organize a group around a core idea. And when we compare Godin to Putnam (as in the Bowling Alone author), the former is going to do a much better job of furthering the ideas in the latter’s book.
That said, Putnam’s book gives a strong foundation for understanding the cultural forces in such phenomena as a tribe, thus giving the reader and insights into steps that move beyond what is discernible in the case studies and metaphors that Godin breaks out. Tribes is the spoon full of sugar, Bowling Alone is the necessary medicine that the true marketers, managers, and strategists ought to have their organizations swallow.
It is worth reading both, but you will have much more success in passing Godin’s book to others (as I have started to do—we’ll see what our CAO thinks about it).
With that, Godin has also produced (with Triiibes) a Tribes casebook in a free ebook format. Included in this book is a case study that I wrote and I have featured here already, so there is a bit of self-promotion with my referencing this publication. If you do download it, please read the very first case study. It is remarkable.