I had no interest in reading The Facebook Effect, the new book from David Kirkpatrick. I spend way too much time on Facebook as is, and when I'm not spending time on it, I'm working on a client's Facebook program or reading about all the latest news. Why would I want to read a book about the damn thing?
It turns out I had a very good reason: I was serving on a panel with him so I had to read the book in advance. If only everyone could find such a good excuse.
The real joy reading the book came from watching Mark Zuckerberg's revelation as the genius that he is, working with a few equally gifted youngsters and ultimately some very supportive older mentors to unleash Mark's vision on the world. It's inspiring, and truly amazing. Luck may have played a role, but what's more striking is how great decision making – from people who often had little experience making such decisions – played a tremendous role. It's not just people who built a somewhat better network and managed to get ahead; these were people who believed in a vision and had the brains and balls to carry it out. And several weren't even 20 when they started doing so.
Then there's the latter part of the book, which is very good and interesting, though not quite as inspiring. Kirkpatrick focused extensively on Facebook's approach to privacy – along with its missteps, and the development of its advertising-focused revenue model. These chapters felt a bit more like work, which is fine since I love my job, and if you find debates about privacy particularly touching maybe you'll like it more than me.
It's clearly written for a business audience. That's a shame in a sense, as it really could be two books – the version of it that's a riches to megariches tale of a kid pursuing his dreams, which would have much wider appeal and just about any Facebook user friend of mine would love it. Then there's the rest, and it's hard to recommend that too broadly. But readers of the blog should appreciate it.
And while I am publishing this an hour before sharing a stage (or a table) with Kirkpatric, I'd be just as glowing if I wasn't. It shouldn't have taken that much motivation to get me to read it, and with any luck you'll be a little less hesitant now. I actually read relatively few business books these days (while reading as much as ever in general) so I have to choose carefully, and this was well worth the time spent with it.