The Facebook Effect by David Kirkpatrick (Virgin Books)
Facebook has over 500 million users. If it were a country, it would be the world's 3rd largest in terms of ‘inhabitants’. Created as a little project in a Harvard university dorm room in February 2004, it was valued at an approximate $15 billion 3.5 years later, on October 26, 2007.

Like it or not – the truth is that Facebook is changing the way the Internet works. It is re-inventing the way people communicate with each other, how companies market their products and interact with their customers, and how we share news and information. More than just a micro-blogging service, Facebook is by far the world’s largest photo-sharing website, an unprecedented social games platform, and a ‘new media’ network.

I don’t generally enjoy non-fiction. Even a novel set in a period or country, is not really my choice. I often joke that if I find a fact in the first chapter of a book, I don’t read it. But my geekiness and interest in all that is Social Media won out here, and so I bought this book for my Kindle.

This book about the history and intricacies of Facebook was written by a veteran technology journalist who was given unprecedented access to key Facebook staff members, and to Mark Zuckerberg himself. It is written in many chapters, and each chapter has a different focus, but it also develops chronologically. It is part biography, part history, and part business book.

It is well written, and although it is not really a biography, it reads like one. It portrays the birth and staggering exponential growth of one of the most influential companies in modern history, and the successes and missteps that got it where it is today. It is a balanced review, and comes across as an honest and open portrayal of the company and its creator. It gives credit where it is due, but does not hesitate to openly discuss and analyse decisions taken and mistakes made.

I really enjoyed reading ‘The Facebook Effect’. Whether you enjoy biographies, are interested in the Internet and Social Media, love studying modern history, or like reading books about the inner workings of businesses, this book will appeal to you. It is mostly easy to read; more ‘story’ than ‘textbook’.

The parts I found difficult to follow was where intricate business dealings were explored, but many people may be fascinated by those details.

Fortunately, those parts are balanced well with the aspects I did enjoy reading – the personal and sociological implications.

Mark Zuckerberg is often portrayed as being ‘evil’. In fact, a recent Facebook status of a friend, and the comments after it, showed just how negative the public perception of Zuckerberg is. The recent movie ‘The Social Network’, based on the book ‘The Accidental Billionaires’ is insightful and entertaining, but it also portrays Zuckerberg as a cheat who stole an idea and made it his own, and someone who stabbed his friend in the back.

The book ‘The Facebook Effect’ portrays him as a very young and inexperienced socially awkward geek, who almost accidentally created a winner beyond all expectation. Facebook is the world’s fastest growing company; it was inevitable that some big mistakes would be made. Zuckerberg may be a little arrogant and unprepared, but evil? Well, read this fascinating and informative book, and decide for yourself.

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Have you read The Facebook Effect yet? What did you think of it?

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