Thursday, July 29, 2010

Facebook and Facebook Books

So that new movie, The Social Network, is coming out, right?  If you haven't seen the trailer yet, you can watch it here:

Given that the movie is based on the book The Accidental Billionaires, I thought it should be cool to go read the book before I actually see the movie.  Given that The Accidental Billionaires is written by Ben Mezrich, the same guy who wrote Bringing Down the House: The Inside Story of Six M.i.t. Students Who Took Vegas, on which the movie 21 was based, I had two thoughts: 1) This guy Mezrich must make a ton of cash on his books; 2) I should try to get a balanced perspective.  See, any movie that gets picked up to be turned into a movie may have a bit of over-dramatization, no?  From various things I've read on the web, The Accidental Billionaires is actually a very negative and condescending perspective of the Facebook story.  So I also looked at getting a copy of The Facebook Effect, which is apparently overly positive; if I read the two of them, maybe I'll get a balanced picture.  ;)  I purchased my copy of The Accidental Billionaires at Coles for $20, but they didn't have any copies of The Facebook Effect.  They recommended I go to Chapters, where my discount card would still be in effect.  So I go there and discover that it's $34!  No way, I'll wait, thanks.  Funny thing is, I see on the same shelf a copy of Stealing MySpace: The Battle to Control the Most Popular Website in America.  The most popular website in America?  My, how times have changed.

Lucky for me, I discovered that The Facebook Effect was being sold by Amazon for only around $20.  :)  How wonderful.  I also ended up purchasing a copy of Delivering Happiness, by Tony Hsieh, founder of Zappos.  Amazon is just so easy, efficient, and cheap for products like books, how do brick and mortar guys compete?  I wonder when I'll join the digital revolution and finally use the Kindle or iPad for all my reading....

Having flipped a bit through The Accidental Billionaires, and then The Facebook Effect at Chapters, I think I understand why The Accidental Billionaires is becoming a movie.  It really does seem to read like a sordid story of lies, sex, and drugs (well, I exaggerate a bit).  Meanwhile, The Facebook Effect seems to read very much like an encyclopedia.  Mind you, I haven't actually read the books yet, so I don't know.  If you want to purchase the same books I purchased, see below.  :)

Perhaps more importantly, I wonder if Facebook is really being overhyped.  I don't mean to say I wonder if they'll eventually become insignificant due to their own failings.  I mean I wonder if Facebook will ever be overtaken by someone else (Foursquare?  Google?  A company that doesn't exist yet?).  I mean, look at the title of that other book: The Battle to Control the Most Popular Website in America.  What the heck happened to MySpace?  Heck, what the heck happened to Friendster?  They're all insignificant now, even though they used to be known as the future.

Look, I'll admit it again.  I thought Facebook would be a fad.  But Facebook is probably for real.  After all, they have accomplished things that previous social networks have never been able to accomplish.  It's probably true they're going to get over a billion dollars in revenue this year.  It's true that they have developers creating applications and games on top of their proprietary platform (hello Zynga, the fastest growing venture in the history of investments by Kleiner Perkins), enabling a developer ecosystem the others didn't even think of attempting to create.  It's true that they've drawn the line in the sand about trying to take over the Internet by extending their functionality outside of their network and trying to get it integrated into websites around the world.  They've created their own ad platform so that they don't need to rely on Google's AdSense to drive revenue.  And they've created a sticky product, as per Malcolm Gladwell's The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference.  So Facebook is definitely being a lot more innovative than their predecessors; they're not standing still, which is what Friendster perhaps did too much of (MySpace, well, we can just chalk up their failures to a lack of entrepreneurial vision after being bought out by News Corp and being subjected to big corporate politics).

Finally, this was an interesting test of the new Amazon Affiliate Program integration with Blogger.  :)  I really should blog more.


  1. ha! i was thinking about asking you about those amazon buttons.... 8^p

  2. They seem to work ok. I couldn't get the layout to be perfect, but oh well. :)