More Awesome Than Money
Four Boys and Their Quest to Save the World From FacebookBook - 2014
Their proposition sounded so simple that is took a few minutes to grasp its audacity. The four undergrads-classic computer nerds-wanted to build a social network that would allow users to control the information they shared about themselves instead of surrendering their privacy (and personal data) to big businesses like Facebook. They were hoping to raise $10,000 in a Kickstarter campaign, enough to keep them in ramen and pizza for the summer in a basement in California while they coded. Their project was called Diaspora.
Apparently, the world had been waiting. Their first day of fund-raising ended with three backers, but before long they had seven thousand in eighteen countries, including a number of legendary figures in the famously skeptical world of software creation. They raised twenty times their goal. Another thirty thousand people signed up to follow the project on Twitter. In a matter of days, the Diaspora Four had received a global commission to rebottle the genie of personal privacy. Soon a half million people had joined a waiting list for invitations.
Jim Dwyer''s riveting book is a rarely told parable of Silicon Valley-a high-profile David versus Goliath effort that had greater goals than another billion-dollar buy-out. The Diaspora Four were idealistic and ambitious, a combination underwritten by that heroic mix of optimism and naïvete you only seem to have when you''re twenty. Max dreamed of being a CEO. Ilya was the visionary. Dan coded like a pro, and Rafi just tried to keep them all on track, and on message. From a chance meeting in a computer club at NYC they wounded up profiled in the New York Times and Fortune , wooed by venture capitalists, submerged in the incubator atmosphere of Silicon Valley, and cheered on by the elite of the digital community. The months wore on. The money ran out. They made mistakes, they squabbled, they suffered grievous loss. They kept going.
This chronicle of young people coming of age on the lip of a socio-technological volcano is told with empathy for them and admiration for their goals, and carefully maps the story''s implications for the biggest issues about the future of the Internet and its powers. The Diaspora Four tried to do something genuinely revolutionary-nothing less than remapping the lines of power in digital society-and kept faith with that vision. Dwyer asks us to consider an urgent question- Have we made a devil''s bargain in permitting the convergence of connectivity, convenience, privacy, and freedom? Is there any going back now?
''The courageous and ingenious actions of these four NYU students and the Diaspora hackers who come in their wake will make you want to stand up and cheer. In an age of self-absorbed tweeting and friending, these young people are our Rocky Balboas and Martin Luther Kings. This book is proof that we are no longer customers of social networks, but rather the merchandise. The advertisers are the true customers, and our private thoughts, desires, and needs are exploited, sold, and bartered among them like trading cards - long after we''ve hit the delete button. The tragic death of the talented programmer Ilya Zhitomirskiy stands as testimony to our own inertia about the commercial forces that seek to control us. I''m glad I met this young man on these pages, and I''m glad that the deeply talented Jim Dwyer - who also wrote the best book on 9-11 you''ll ever read - brought him and his friends to us with such stirring clarity. It''s a superb work, and a great read.'' James McBride, author of The Good Lord Bird and The Color of Water , winner of the National Book Award
''Jim Dwyer''s More Awesome Than Money is the story of four young men who dared to go up against the (new) machine - in this case, Facebook. By turns funny, poignant, scary, heartbreaking, and hopeful, More Awesome Than Money includes everything you need to know ab