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Quick Look at the Meteoric Rise of Facebook

  • Dec 27, 2010
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If you are reading this, chances are you have a Facebook account. In fact, probably most of your friends and relatives are also on Facebook, and you find yourself communicating with them more via this social network than all other communications channels combined. With almost 600 million users Facebook has become the de facto way of getting online, and its meteoric rise closely mimics the rise of the Internet in the 1990s, and it is predicted that by 2012 every other internet user will have a Facebook account. With all these mind-blowing facts in mind, it is little surprise that Time magazine has chosen Mark Zuckerberg, the cofounder of Facebook, as the 2010 person of the year. At 26, Zuckerberg is the second youngest person to win this award, the position that he shares with Queen Elizabeth II, and second only to Charles Lindbergh who was only 25 when he won this recognition. This short book is an expanded version of the Time magazine article that describes Zuckerberg and what he has accomplished with Facebook thus far.

Zuckerberg's story sounds so like it has been sawn together out of several other high-tech miraculous startup stories that it's sometimes hard to believe that it is not fiction: a gifted Harvard undergraduate starts an extremely popular tech company in his dorm room, drops out of college, moves to Silicon Valley where he is quickly courted by several venture capital firms, becomes insanely rich in a few short years, but still lives the Spartan and low-key lifestyle that he has always lived. Yes, it all sounds way too contrived, but it's all true. Part of the aim of this short book is to dispel the image of Zuckerberg as a cold, nerdy geek with no social or interpersonal skills. The author goes to some pains to point out many of Zuckerberg's healthy "real world" relationships - from those with his family, to his long-time girlfriend and many close friends and coworkers with whom he interacts on a daily basis.

The book is also a somewhat candid look at the Silicon Valley culture and the technological and social trends that this pressure cooker of innovation has been ushering lately. The author also muses about the impact that an increasingly online mode of communication may be having on us, not all of which seems all that glowing. Such concerns are common with any new technology that has reshaped our social relationships, and it is inevitable that many old (and not so old) forms of communication may become extinct. Nonetheless, I am fairly sanguine about the future of our interpersonal interactions and the way that technology facilitates them, and it is very likely that the Time magazine person of the year for 2020 will reshape our lives in ways that we cannot even begin to imagine.

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About the reviewer
Bojan Tunguz ()
I am a benevolent rascal. I love lounging in bed on a Sunday morning. Rainy days make me melancholy, but in a good kind of way. I am an incorrigible chocoholic. I hate Mondays, but I get over it by Wednesday. … more
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We have entered the Facebook age, and he is the man who brought us here. For connecting more than half a billion people and mapping the social relations among them, for creating a new system of exchanging information, Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg is TIME's 2010 Person of the Year. Amazon Kindle brings you an extended version of the cover profile by TIME senior writer Lev Grossman, with an introduction by TIME managing editor Richard Stengel. Read how the Person of the Year has changed how we live our lives in ways that are innovative and even optimistic.
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