I recently finished The Facebook Effect by David Kirkpatrick. This is the most detailed account of the Facebook phenomenon thus far. I think it’s worth a read if you want to understand precisely how Facebook evolved to its current form. The book offers a history of Mark Zuckerberg’s climb more than a compelling discussion of Facebook’s cultural impact or meaning.
What struck me most about this book was Zuckerberg’s drive. While his trademark fleece hoodie and Adidas flip-flops had many believe that his success was all a matter of luck, his relentless vision of relational connectivity tells another story. And it was never about money. From the earliest 10 million dollar bid while a student at Harvard to more recent stratospheric offers, Zuckerberg’s core motivation was to change the way the world communicates. At every turn he resisted silicon valley’s build-and-flip culture to offer something with bigger value and meaning.
Perhaps what was most revealing to me was Mark Zuckerberg’s core beliefs surrounding privacy. From his earliest days, Mark Zuckerberg has harbored some pretty extreme views on transparency and the greater good. He and his Facebook leadership embrace what has been referred to as “radical transparency” – the belief that an enveloping transparency should and will overtake modern life. Some of the direct quotes in the chapter on privacy are actually chilling.
Understanding Facebook’s history and Zuckerberg’s early ideas lends real insight into today’s Facebook product. While the detail was a bit fine for me I’d recommend The Facebook Effect and predict that this will live in the long tail as Facebook’s early story.
The rest of the story has yet to be told.