Thursday, February 23, 2012

the facebook Effect

This morning I finished reading the facebook EFFECT by David Kirkpartick. Very good! It started off telling how the website came to be, but also in-dept portrayal of the founder, Mark Zuckerburg and a great discussion of privacy in this new age of web-openness.  Several things struck me through-out this book.

-Other than a causal mention that Zuckerburg came from a Jewish family, faith was not mentioned.  At all. Such a stark contrast to my life of where faith is apart of every decision and activity. It's the foundation of  my and Drew's life.

-I was totally amazed at the drive of Zuckerburg and his college friends.  They created this website inside their college dorm room. And they were not the only ones at the time who were interested in building a business. I don't remember anyone during my college years trying to start a business or to "change the world" (as Mark Zuckerburg said time and time again).  My college comtemporaries were more interested in partying and sports and shopping. Maybe that's just the difference in a southern college and the Ivy League.   Now, don't think these Ivy League-ers didn't party - they did - a lot!, but they worked even harder.

- Facebook is what is today - free and without any intrusive advertisements because Mark Zuckerburg demanded it. If he had sold out at any point (and he was confronted with many, many offers in the millions of dollars!), we would have a very different Facebook today.  More than likely it would have gone by the way-side as media people began to run it instead of tech people. Throughout the book it stated over and over that Zuckerburg's goal was not to make money, but to make a great product that people enjoyed. What an incredible point of view. So different than the normal money-seeking greedy people we see in business and in the media today.  One of his main points was that any advertisement would not interfere with the experience of being on facebook.  I, personally, am so glad he stood strong in this.  If I had to pay or had to sit through pop-up ads, I probably would not have a profile.

-One thing that does make me uncomfortable with Zuckerburg's view of the future is his view of privacy and openness.  He seems to want to do away with our privacy - a little bit at a time. Seemingly not to ruin out lives, but to help us share and be "transparent". I'm not so sure I want to be transparent for all to see.  In five years from now, who will control this information? And what will they do with it? Do the powers that be really need to know what tv shows or music I like?

It makes me even more cautious of what I put on facebook for all the world to see.  And whom I am friends with.  Does a person I knew briefly at a prior location really need to know everything about me? It's something that I struggle with - who to be friends with and what to share. 

But at the end of the day, I love facebook. I started with my profile with every intention to delete it within a week or so. I only signed up to see a friend's pictures from a Halloween party.  But then I saw how many of my in-laws were on...and connected with several people I went to high school with. And...I was hooked.  While we were over-seas, it was a great way to share pictures and our tropical island life with our family.

While we are closer to family now that we are back in State-side, I still use facebook to keep family up-to-date with all the kids going-ons. But also, I use it to connect with my friends.  Moving to a new place can be very lonely at times. On facebook I have connect with my Guam friends and know they, too, were struggling to find a place in their new life.  They have been a great source of comfort and encouragement.

So, even with my concerns, I will continue to be on facebook.  But I am doing some careful thinking as to what I want to share and whom to share it with.  Two friends have told me they see it as a way to minister to others....I thought "wow...what a great view!"  Will that be my view? Maybe....but above all, I want to continue connecting with those that I care about. And thankfully, due to Mark Zuckerburg, I will be able to do that free and without any instrusive ads.

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