Book Review: The Gort Cloud
Image source: Sheila in Millstone on Flikr You may be asking yourself, what is the Gort Cloud and why have you never heard of it. Well, that's probably because it's a new concept developed by author Richard Seireeni in the same titled The Gort Cloud: The Invisible Force Powering Today's Most Visible Brands to explain the network of "green" businesses/media/design everything "that has the power to make or break green brands." To be honest, the book doesn't really flesh out or explain the concept of the Gort Cloud, so while there may be some truth to this idea of a green network, there isn't really any research behind it or much explanation of how or why it works. The book is mostly a compilation of case studies on several successful green companies and interviews with the owners on how they got to where they are. The interviews/case studies are really interesting to read, but only for someone interested in launching a green business, for example, and not interested in an explanation of the Gort Cloud.
An interview with Earth Friendly Moving owner Spencer Brown revealed "The green community tends to be very difficult to market to. They're very aware. They're very educated. To date, this has been the most difficult group to market to convince, and that makes it the best challenge, that makes it very satisfying." The Gort Cloud, or this sphere of influence, is a connection of journalists, researchers, business owners, media, etc, all of whom have been in the field for years, and therefore are taken as credible leaders in the field, in whom society relies on to differentiate between the green and the greenwashing.
Treehugger.com is repeatedly referenced as what Seireeni terms a "trendspotter." Businesses, products, design companies or just about anyone that gets picked up by Treehugger.com, and gets good press, gets an instant rocket boost to their company in terms of new customers and valuable green cred. Seireeni has a background in marketing, and the first part of the book is devoted to looking at marketing and how this green network is used to market products through non-traditional marketing avenues. The majority of the book is just devoted to corporate case studies and one gets the idea that half of what makes green businesses work is this green network and the other half is luck (being in the right place at the right time).
After reading the book, I'm left with several questions, mainly wondering whether this network really exists, how groups relate with each other and move up/down the hierarchy. I also wonder whether this is specific just to the green movement, (doubt it), or whether other causes/industries have similar networks that sustain them. If you're still wondering where the word Gort came from, here it is:
"The inspiration for that moniker lies in the Oort cloud, named after the astronomer Jan Hendrick Oort. The Oort cloud is a vast field of stellar debris that orbits the solar system. We can only detect it electronically and view its effects, mostly in the form of the occasional comet it tosses back into our neighborhood. This seems to perfectly describe the Gort Cloud, a vast green netowrk made up of untidy bits that is most easily detected through electronic means and that has a huge effect on the evolution of green business."
You can find The Gort Cloud at your local library, and online at Chelsea Green Publishing and Amazon.com. :The Gort CloudMore Green Book ReviewsThe Green Collar Economy by Van JonesThe Sustainability MirageTen Technologies to Save the PlanetEarth: The Sequel