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on 6 August 2010
I just finished reading 'The Facebook Effect' about an hour ago, and I must admit that I was surprised by the book and it's content. It gave an intelligent account of the story of Facebook and real insight into the thinking of founder and CEO Mark Zuckenberg.

There were two concerns when I started reading the book. The first one was that the author, David Kirkpatrick had clearly been given a great deal of access to Facebook and you couldn't expect him to be too critical of the company given his apparent closeness to the founder and key staff. Second, that the book would be an excited and prophetic account about the 'Facebook miracle' hyping once more an already over-hyped subject.

After finishing the book I feel that Kirkpatrick was able to tell the story of Facebook in a revealing way and that his proximity to the company was a real asset in understanding the guiding thinking and philosophy behind the company. We learn how the founder approached some major challenges and changes to the platform, from the expansion outside of the Ivy league network of US unversities, to the introduction of newsfeeds and it's subsequent user rebellion as well as global expansion. It delves a little too much in the equity structure and on-going discussion about selling or not selling and who thought what when. It fails to truly critize Facebook in any significant way - although it raises the privacy issues and concerns, you still end up feeling that Mark Zuckenberg is a visionary genius who had figured it out from the beginning (which he probably is - but you leave feeling you needed a more balanced account to be convinced). Although it is balanced by the doubts and lack of certainty that he experience you still feel that there is more to the story than what is told and that luck and circumstance played a more significant role than 'brave and bold' strategic decisions. Maybe the upcoming movie 'the Social Network' will help complete the picture of the Facebook story.

On the Facebook miracle question, the book clearly hypes the company as more a less the future of the internet, and sometimes even the future of humanity, morals, and mankind. This is when Kirkpatrick get's carried away by the official Facebook propaganda. However the underlying changes that Facebook is doing to society, as well as it's incredibly important significance for the world of business and communications is explained in an intelligent and meaningful way. I felt I understand much better some of the changes that happened to fFacebook, and where it is heading and how the corporate culture and founder's vision is getting it there.

On the whole it is a thoroughly enjoyable read, worth your while if you want to understand how Facebook happened, and get an insight into the mind of the founder. It should be more critical of Facebook and more open about the accidental events that lead to it's dominant position (and could equally removing it from that pedestal), but all in all it was a great read.

Phil
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on 9 February 2016
This book really surprised me. I'm not into business books. I'm not into IT. I don't even have a Facebook or Twitter account. I watched The Social Network on TV the other week, so many of my friends are Facebook users, and I became curious as to the story behind Facebook.
I ordered the book second-hand and didn't actually pick it up for some time because it's a substantial paperback and the typescript is very small. In other words, there was a lot there to read and again, I'm not really into that sort of literature.
When I did start reading this book I was very pleasantly surprised and found it hard to put down. Not only is the story behind Facebook very interesting and fast-paced, but the author of this book has a most enjoyable style of writing. He managed to put together a most readable, engaging and at times even entertaining account of the conception and development of Facebook. The author did have amazing access to people that mattered, people on the "front line", but - in my opinion - painted a fair and not uncritical picture of the company and the people behind it.
If you're in any way interested in social media, you could do a lot worse than to pick up this book. I still won't open a Facebook account though, now even less so than before as I have learnt so much more about the privacy issues connected with it.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 1 December 2010
Statistically speaking - if Facebook and the internet keep growing at a steady rate - by 2013, every internet user will have a Facebook page, a remarkable achievement for an organization in operation only since 2004. In fact, Facebook is the best networking platform ever. Writer, editor and technology expert David Kirkpatrick examines its amazing start-up and covers "the Facebook effect," the singular phenomenon that enables people globally to connect in new ways. Facebook is ubiquitous, with far greater penetration than any other mass medium. Most intriguing, information can bubble up from Facebook users and quickly spread from one online "friend" to another across an immense social network of nearly 500 million users worldwide. Kirkpatrick nails Facebook's complex corporate biography and, even more tellingly, captures the personalities of the innovators involved, particularly genius CEO Mark Zuckerberg. getAbstract recommends this book to all Facebook members, which if current trends continue, soon will be everyone online.
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on 23 February 2011
I work in the IT industry. I have read books to do with Amazon, Yahoo, Ebay, the Google Story and this is one of the best of the lot. I was intrigued about how Facebook could actually attract 500 million users. Something that still surprises me as the site offers nothing that special. This book is a perfect insight into the creation of the site and the the truth about how it all progressed and covers the entire Facebook story
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on 5 January 2016
The Facebook Effect claims to be “The Real Story Behind THE SOCIAL NETWORK”, and I believe it was even used as source material for the movie of the same name. It certainly does offer a great glimpse into Facebook’s early days, although things have moved along even further since the book’s publication and Facebook has morphed into a huge behemoth that the author could never have predicted.

That said, if you’re looking for the early years, the story of how Mark Zuckerberg created TheFacebook.com from his college dorm room and the subsequent adventures and investments that followed, then this book is definitely for you. Luckily, that was exactly what I was hoping for, and so I enjoyed this book immensely.

Part of that is probably down to the skill of the author, who’s a veteran of the tech journalism scene after spending many years as the senior editor for internet and technology at Fortune magazine. He’s earned his stripes already, and that’s what allowed him access to the inner workings of the company, including some of the people who you really need to hear from in a book like this, the ones who remember Mark from before he was a billionaire.

I work in social media marketing, and it’s always useful to know more about the social networks that you’re using even if it doesn’t directly affect your ability to use the platform. I like to know as much as I possibly can about what I’m doing, and Facebook is the biggest social network in the world – if you’re working in a similar job role, then it’s not a bad idea for you to give it a read, too.

Even for the average reader, it’s still pretty interesting to find out more, especially if you spend a lot of time on Facebook. Somehow, knowing a bit more about the company and its ethos seems to change the way in which you look at it. It’s easy to take things for granted, but when you consider the amount of time that the average person spends on Facebook, you start to realise you ought to know more.
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on 9 June 2015
At the time I purchased this book I only had a mild interest in social media and Facebook itself, however, purchase it I did. After a year or so of sitting unread on my shelf it was a social media project at uni that made me pick it up to read it. I did not project a mass of expectation on this book, I had never heard of the author before or had any awareness of his work and had already watched the film The Social Network (2010) starring Jesse Eisenberg, so assumed it would be more of the same.

The Facebook Effect is not a book just about how a Harvard student created a website in his dorm room and developed it to the Facebook we know today but, by working closely with Mark Zuckerberg and many other individuals involved in the business past and present, Kirkpatrick presents a very detailed journey of Facebook from creation to global giant. The more I read the more I felt like I was getting to know these people and an awareness began to grow of the privileged opportunity to view inside a business that has become an intricate part of my everyday life. Unlike many documentaries dependant on second hand information, Kirkpatrick himself was present during the early days of Facebook, writing about Mark and his team, so was able to report on some events first hand.

As Kirkpatrick was working with Zuckerberg and his team it would be easy to assume the book to be naturally biased. It does paint Zuckerberg and Facebook in a positive light, but the fact is that Facebook is a successful and popular business. Kirkpatrick credits people no longer involved in the business and doesn’t attempt to demonise anyone. The well-known law suits against Zuckerberg are touched upon factually and, in my opinion, are presented in a balanced view. Facebook made mistakes, which Kirkpatrick makes no attempts to hide and even Zuckerberg himself at the time responded to his users through the Facebook blog addressing such mistakes.

It became clear to me that Kirkpatrick exercised his journalistic integrity. I soon realised that this book was clearly written by someone who was sharing his own passion too. There is a lot of commitment to detail, but despite not being too tech savvy myself, technical terms are defused with clear and simple explanation of what they mean as well as the impact on the events in hand. I found it particularly fascinating that the Facebook team and Kirkpatrick often referred to what they thought would be the future, being that this was published early 2010 it is interesting to find that many predictions were in fact accurate. This was another point of evidence that I was reading about very passionate and intelligent people who clearly understood their users and the world around them.

I don’t often say this but I genuinely found this book inspirational. Not just because of Zuckerberg’s success but because through this book I feel I have developed my understanding of Facebook and its purpose. I understand why we have it in our lives and the immense potential Facebook offers the individual.
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on 19 November 2015
An interesting retrospective of the growth of this remarkable company. You get the feeling that it's slightly sanitised, but there is a lot of "behind the curtain" detail of how Facebook grew from dorm project to one of the most influential companies on the globe. It also provides some revealing insight into how the Zuck thinks, the culture of Facebook and where they might be going. I bought this to get some insight for my startup, flomohq.com which relies on the Facebook API and it has not disappointed. This book provides valuable perspectives for anyone who has an interest in Facebook and wants to go beyond the vague / incorrect portrayal in "The Social Network" movie.
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Much as been said and written about the phenomenal success, since it's start-up in 2004, of the ubiquitous social networking site, Facebook. From humble beginnings, but with hindsight inspirational foresight and determination,and whilst in his first year at Harvard, Mark Zukerberg and his coterie drove through with almost a religious fervour his concept of the future of global communications, into a mammoth modern technology company.

That company Facebook has now been morphed into a massive concern with upwards of 500 million of us having joined up to socialise among family and friends, make new acquaintances, and 'rubber-neck' other's lives and goings-on. It also allowed us a freedom and flexibility of instant communication and networking that hitherto had not been available to the great unwashed masses.

David Kirkpatrick's most competent and engagingly attention-holding book 'The Facebook Effect' does an excellent job in tracking the growth of the Google Business from the early days at Harvard through until 2010, including all of it's teething troubles and growth pains, warts and all. He was given extensive access to Zuckerberg and his team which helped him build up a very clear and concise understanding of how 'Facebook' bludgeoned it's way into our affections. That the company is now valued at $15 billion is testament indeed, to this contemporary geek culture.

So what happens now? Quoting from the eminent Science Fiction Author Timothy Zahn " For a change, lady-luck seemed to be smiling on me. Then, again, maybe the fickle wench was just lulling me into a false sense of security while she reached for the hard rock." The international newswires are claiming that subscribers to Facebook have very recently started witnessing reduced subscription levels which does not auger well for the rapid growth experienced so far. Could it be that the 'fickle hand'of fate has already started to erode Facebook's subscriptions,and thus the beginning of a spiral downturn? You only have to look at the rapid decline of subscribers in "Friends Reunited" to witness the fickleness and transient nature of social networking sites. It could prove that getting Facebook to where it is today might be considerably easier than keeping it there.Let us hope that lady-luck does not rain down hard rocks but only time will tell, with the real 'rough and tumble' not yet begun.

This book charting the rise of Facebook is highly recommended.
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VINE VOICEon 3 May 2011
I bought this after watching the film and it nicely fills in the gaps that had to be left out of the movie.

It's quite incredible how quickly this became a success. I'd like to say Facebook is one of those 'once in a generation' type of companies but I suspect many will come along with just as good ideas that take off just as quickly. It's the nature of the game.

The book is quite well written and done with an edge of intrigue from the author.

It's not a quick read (well not in my half-hour lunch breaks!) but leaves me inspired with my brain ticking over into the afternoon. Man I need to escape the 9 to 5!

Facebook fan, programmer, entrepreneur or you've just seen the film, I think you'll really like this book.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 19 February 2013
"There is a tide in the affairs of man which taken at the flood leads on to fortune", and Mark Zuckerberg has surfed that tide to unimaginable success.

It helped that he had the right personal attributes, the right background and was in the right place at the right time. It also helped that he took his opportunities and pursued them relentlessly. But not ruthlessly; despite all the difficulties and mistakes, he kept a certain quiet integrity. He had experience of being a teenage coder. He took risks that often got him into trouble. He was scary smart and he was at Harvard, where everyone was scary smart. And some of his friends at Harvard had access to seed-money. Facebook was not the first social network but he could learn from the mistakes of the existing ones, and open source software tools such as PHP and MySQL  were, literally, freely available.

The expansion of Facebook  was carefully managed. At first it was exclusive to Harvard, then to the rest of the Ivy League, then to other colleges and high schools. The key was verification by e-mail domain names at each institution. MySpace allowed anonymous and unverified members. Zuckerberg did not want this. Expansion was kept in step with server capacity required for user demand. Friendstr has expanded too quickly, giving such a poor response that it threatened Friendstr's existence.

Zuckerberg always intended to keep control, so investors and venture capitalists were handled carefully and prevented from taking too high a stake. He always went for growth over revenue, figuring that in the long run revenue would follow size. Later chapters discuss how Facebook came to terms with advertising, which had always been subsidiary to growth for Zuckerberg. They tried to find a way to incorporate advertising into its social model, sometimes getting it wrong, but eventually re-inventing advertising. The last three chapters discuss the transformative nature of Facebook, the Facebook effect of the book's title, how it is rapidly evolving into a platform rather than a single system and its possible future. In this brave new world, Microsoft owns the desktop, Google owns the data and now Facebook owns the people.

This is a very competent book by an experienced business journalist specialising in the Internet and technology who had full co-operation with key executives at Facebook, yet it does not feel like a white-wash. It complements the excellent The Social Network, giving a broader, sequential and more detailed history than the film. However, this book may be too broad, too detailed and too business-like for some readers, particularly as it is over 300 pages. Personally, I found it fascinating.

This book has 333 pages, a 2 page "Further Reading" section, an index and 8 pages of black and white photographs. A chronology of events would have been useful as would a list of people mentioned with their short biographies.

The digerati may prefer the e-book version or they may want to first check out this book on Facebook at thefacebookeffect.
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