Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Facebook/Accidental Billionaire's book review

As many of you already know, I've been indoctrinated into the world of Facebook. I've been on there for about a year have seen all the good and the bad. Before I get into it, though, I wanted to give a quick review of a book I just read, The Accidental Billionaires: The Founding of Facebook A Tale of Sex, Money, Genius and Betrayal by Ben Mezrich. This is the same guy that wrote Bringing Down the House, the book that the movie 21 was based on. That book and movie were pretty good. Accidental Billionaires ..., not so much. The problem is that Mezrich plays fast and loose with the narrative. Ostensibly, both Bringing Down the House and Accidental Billionaires are non-fiction, but he creates situations and conversations out of thin-air when he doesn't actually know what was said. He just infers it from the situation and from second-hand knowledge. It makes for an entertaining read (it really reads like fiction) but it makes you question it's veracity.

This particular book is the about the several founders of Facebook, most notably Mark Zuckerberg, and their humble beginnings in a dorm room at Harvard. It's definitely an interesting story because as big as Facebook is, its CEO Zuckerberg is only 25 years old. Facebook's background involves Harvard's clique system, competing social network sites, disgruntled co-founders, etc.. Knowing the background is nice, but I just question how accurate the account can be when Mezrich didn't really to talk to the majority of the founders. Another problem I have with the book is that it seems like Mezrich was writing for the screen from the get-go. I believe the book was optioned to Kevin Spacey's production company (the same that did 21) before it was even written. And the book really plays more like a screenplay than a book. Not enough details, superficial, and with stereotypical characters -- the kind of stuff that may play on the screen, but not necessarily on the page. I wouldn't really recommend this book. Hopefully the movie will be better.

On to Facebook in real life. Now, I don't have a huge friend list (60+) and don't necessarily want one. I think I've got a good mix right now with local friends, friends I've made through blogging, family, some clients, and some of the kids I graduated from high school with. Especially with the high school friends, it has been very interesting in re-catching up with them.

The problems I am running into relate to content. With my friends that I see all the time and my blog friends, I don't really worry about self-editing. That doesn't mean I'm going to be mean or discourteous but rather that very few subjects are off limits. And anything said is said in the interest of getting to the truth of something or at the very least getting to the humor of it. So, I try to keep these topics on my blog and don't really talk about religion or politics on Facebook.

My friend group in Facebook encompasses more casual friends and family members that either don't know my leanings or whose leanings could not be more opposite than mine. For example, I'm very close to my recently deceased grandfather's step-grandkids. Grandpa was the only grandfather they ever knew and I very much consider them my cousins. Hell, I've seen them more and like them more than my real cousins. But, they are all fervent Assembly of God Christians. Several of them are pastors. They are good people and are never really pushy about it. They don't really judge us and we have never gotten into a down-and-dirty discussion on exactly what my religious beliefs are. Just as I don't like Christians proselytizing, I don't feel it is necessary for me to say what my beliefs are unless I'm specifically asked, in which case, I'd be more than happy to say.

In any event, about a half dozen of them are Facebook friends. I wouldn't dream of saying anything that would denigrate them in any manner. I'm sure several of them wouldn't mind my views and might even find them interesting. But, I'm not prepared to test that theory yet.

All of that is not a big deal to me. Blogging is for one side of me, Facebook for another. My problem is with a specific former work friend of mine (and a guy that is some fantasy sports leagues with me) who doesn't have a similar demarcation. I've always known we had opposite political views but it just didn't apply in our social interactions before. He's a nice enough guy and has a wife we've known for 10 years plus. He posts wretched stuff clipped from Glenn Beck shows or Rush Limbaugh and just today, he chose the passing of Edward Kennedy as an appropriate time to post this:

"Well that's one way to stop a filibuster proof majority in the Senate. Delayed for five months anyway until the special election in MA."

It's a comment that just begs me to respond, but I won't. He's the worse kind of ideologue ... one who thinks he knows what he believes but actually just believes what he is told to repeat. And he doesn't realize the inconsistencies in his beliefs. I don't mind if you have a different viewpoint, just make sure that it is at least internally consistent. For example, he says he's an atheist but he's against gay marriage. In my book, if you don't believe in God but still hate gays, then you are just a straight-up bigot. I borderline think that even if you do believe in God, but at least I'm more likely to understand where you are coming from. Secondly, he says he's a Libertarian but he's for a strong military around the world. My buddy Scott (who does know what he believes )will be more than happy to point out the problem with that.

My point is this: I want to jettison him from my friends list but I'd have to bear the questions of why when I'd see him at baseball games or when I drop by my old work or when we're chatting during fantasy sports seasons. I have figured out how to suppress his posts from showing in my Feed, but it's not perfect solution. He'll still feel compelled to chime in when I might post something of an environmental nature, which I don't consider political, but he does.

I know Laura pruned her friends list awhile ago. How did you do it Laura? Having friends used to be so much easier before online social networking. :-)


CyberKitten said...

I have been repeated asked to join my friends on Facebook and have steadfastly refused. I spend far too much time on-line as it is without that!

As far as I can tell I'm not missing that much....

dbackdad said...

CK -- Be strong. Don't give in to the dark side. It's too late for me.

CyberKitten said...

Resistance is character building.....

Eli Blake said...

One of my favorite bloggers, Democratic Diva, points out that Libertarians aren't what they claim. She points out that they are almost always male misogynists and in particular a lot of them are for Ron Paul because he is 'against abortion.' Go figure.

A so-called libertarian who is for war and against abortion is a conservative Republican in my book. Maybe the Republican brand is so damaged they are hiding out as 'libertarians' so they can act what they think is 'cool,' but in reality it's pretty juvenile.

dbackdad said...

Eli - Thanks for stopping by. Steven Anderson is quite the wack-job and we hear about him all too often here in AZ. This is not the first publicity stunt he has pulled.

Several friends of mine started up a group called "People Against Clergy Who Preach Hate" to protest Anderson. They even got some pub in the Phoenix paper: Group to protest Tempe pastor who asked for Obama's death