“The Facebook Effect”

Sep 25, 2010 | 2 comments

Books-in-Waiting

     The pile of “to read” books on the table at the end of the bed grows daily and, even though I want to read (or at least scan) them all, I stay stuck on the one on top.  The Facebook Effect: The Inside Story of the Company That Is Connecting The World  by David Kirkpatrick has captured my attention and I can’t move on.  That is not a complaint.  The book is absolutely fascinating.  But it is dense – the way a textbook is dense.  After you read a few pages, you have to set it aside and mull it over for awhile.
     Unlike many textbooks, however, the information The Facebook Effect contains has relevance to my life.  In fact, I think anyone using Facebook regularly should read it – at least the first few chapters.  However, when I suggest it to people the reply is usually, “The movie is coming out.  I’ll just see that.”
     According to the reviews I’ve seen, the movie, The Social Network, is not kind to Mark Zuckerberg, the young billionaire, founder of Facebook.  Time magazine says the movie portrait of him is “unflattering.”  And, according to Newsweek, even worse than the fact that much of the movie is “invented,” is that it reveals the Silicon Valley of today as “… a casino, a place where smart kids arrive hoping to make an easy fortune building companies that seem, if not pointless, at least not as serious as, say, old-guard companies…”  Maybe my own logic is flawed, but how did the reviewer arrive at that conclusion from a mostly “invented” movie?
     David Kirkpatrick, author of The Facebook Effect, has been accused of bias in the other direction.  According to one reviewer, Kirkpatrick (who used to be the senior tech writer for Fortune magazine) “really, really loves Facebook” and, therefore, is incapable of being objective.  Maybe so, but thus far he is the only person who has written such a complete history of the company or of its CEO, Mark Zuckerberg.
     And it’s the history of Facebook and Zuckerberg’s continuing vision for the company that I find fascinating.  From a Harvard dorm-room creation by a 19-year-old freshman in February 2004, to the Facebook we know today with over half a billion active users world-wide, it’s a story worth reading.  Zuckerberg’s thoughts about privacy, transparency, sharing information from “the bottom-up,” and giving people control over their own information are thought-provoking, to say the least.  That his vision, no matter how controversial, is impacting our world is indisputable.  The effect of Facebook goes far beyond the “social networking” that most people associate with it.   I give the book two thumbs up.

2 Comments

  1. Geri

    Thanks for the recommendation – I will pick it up. Speaking of the “Facebook Effect” and stacking up books – I finished the 3rd Dragon Tattoo book a couple of weeks ago. It finally did pick up, and I loved the last 1/3rd of the book. Facebook somehow has eaten up some of the time I used to spend just reading books – making getting through the stacks slower. I’m still not sure how I feel about that…

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  2. Mark Petersen

    For those who are interested, the September 20 issue of The New Yorker contains an article by Jose Vargas entitled “Letter from Palo Alto – The Face of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, friends and foes.” p.54.

    It’s a fairly clear-headed description of Zuckerberg and his brainchild, Facebook. Based on interviews of the main character and the normal New Yorker depth, I found it revealing and entertaining as well as informative.

    Cheers,
    Mark

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