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Authoritas: One Student's Harvard Admissions and the Founding of the Facebook Era Hardcover – June 1, 2008


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 335 pages
  • Publisher: Think Press; 1st edition (June 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1606690000
  • ISBN-13: 978-1606690000
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 6.2 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,538,400 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

He says he was actually the one who created the original college social networking system, before either side in the legal dispute. And he has the e-mail messages to show it... College classmates describe Mr. Greenspan as extremely bright and an unusually productive software designer... Mr. Greenspan remains extraordinarily energetic and envisions ideas for new projects. --The New York Times

'Authoritas' offers a very vivid view of a person, an institution, an educational culture, and a moment in echnological-economic history created by the internet. I bet that most people who start reading the book will, as I did, keep right on going out of fascination to see how it turns out. --James Fallows, National Correspondent, The Atlantic Monthly

Full of passages the Facebook founder would rather you not read. --Nicholas Carlson, Associate Editor, Valleywag

About the Author

Aaron Greenspan started Think Computer Corporation from his bedroom in Shaker Heights, Ohio at the age of 15. While he attended high school, Aaron grew Think to support more than 150 businesses, individuals and schools across the United States and Canada. He subsequently changed the focus of the company from IT consulting to software development. In October of 2000, Aaron spearheaded the creation of Think Computer Foundation, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization with the goal of helping children through technology. Aaron invented The Facebook while attending Harvard College in September, 2003. He graduated cum laude from Harvard in three years (Advanced Standing) with an A.B. in Economics in 2004. He lives in Palo Alto, California.

More About the Author

Aaron Greenspan started Think Computer Corporation from his bedroom in Shaker Heights, Ohio at the age of 15. While he attended high school, Aaron grew Think to support more than 150 businesses, individuals and schools across the United States and Canada. He subsequently changed the focus of the company from IT consulting to software development. In October of 2000, Aaron spearheaded the creation of Think Computer Foundation, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization with the goal of helping children through technology. Aaron invented The Facebook while attending Harvard College in September 2003 and graduated cum laude with an A.B. in Economics in 2004. He lives in Palo Alto, California.

Customer Reviews

Aaron's story is personal, engaging, and important.
Robert E. Morgan
"Authoritas" is a highly recommended look behind the famous Face Book website, and a recommended addition to academic and community library Biography collections.
Midwest Book Review
With that combination I think we will be hearing a lot from Mr. Greenspan in the future.
D. J. Butcher

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

33 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Peter Cooper on July 25, 2008
Format: Hardcover
This book is odd. It's well written and the narrative is compelling; enough for me to read it all in one go.

The stories of inadequate ego-driven teachers and students early on in the book are relayed well. The book's exposure of incompetence, back-scratching and favoritism from supposedly upstanding academic leaders is excellent. This is a good reason to read this book, and for excellently depicting an often overlooked part of academic life, this book deserves 4 stars.

The problem is, that's not why I bought the book. I was expecting a book about the "founding of the Facebook era" as the sub-title suggests. This is certainly not a focus. From 335 pages in all, the name "Mark Zuckerberg" first appears on page 287, and any facts relating to Facebook's rise are within only the last 40 pages and are mostly tainted by disdain.

Initially the author developed a system called CriticalMass that allowed students to rate their satisfaction of different academics at Harvard. Textbook Central, a textbook trading site, followed. Another system called FAStWebmail allowed Harvard students to access their official Harvard e-mail accounts over the Web. These were eventually rolled into a system called houseSYSTEM that included some other features like course preselection and calendars.

For a few chapters after explaining how these systems were developed, the focus is on how the administration and some other students considered houseSYSTEM to be insecure and flawed, due to its pseudo-requirement to have users' official Harvard passwords (in order for the webmail function to work) and a lack of proper SSL (HTTPS) security.

In dealing with these concerns the author showed a lack of technical knowledge.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By P. Konstantinidis on March 14, 2009
Format: Hardcover
This book is written well. It is worth reading.

The writer is, apparently, a talented technologist who cares a lot about things working right and about efficiency. Some of the things he describes having done are worth praising, like the uncovering of the apparent corruption in purchasing computers at his high school.

BUT, and there is a big but (no pun intended), I have NEVER, EVER met a man with such socialization issues like Aaron Greenspan. It seems like every day in his life, from the moment he wakes up until he retires, is a struggle against Orks, Golems and Darth Vader. Most people, when faced with the inevitable rudeness, stupidity and incompetence that we encounter every day, just shrug it off and move on. Not Aaron. Aaron gets mad, his lung collapses, he has shortness of breath and he feels suicidal. His parents seem to scream and yell all the time. He goes on save-the-world crusades, which, as he describes it, he always conducts as a timid, tongue-tied, helpless adolescent. Although he is the writer and he controls the story telling, he comes across as an irritating, insufferable cry baby who cannot deal with the world.

I sat down to read a tale of Harvard hardship and all the details of the Facebook controversy and I ended up mumbling "enough already with the nagging" every other paragraph. No wonder no girlfriend.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Benjamin Burrows on June 14, 2010
Format: Hardcover
"Authoritas" is a nauseating and desperate attempt by Greenspan to assert himself as the "true" visionary behind Facebook. Instead, he cements his place in history as a jealous and imbalanced individual. Each page of the book is dripping with extreme insecurity, regret, and bitterness. Greenspan finds himself in a world in which Mark Zuckerberg's growing empire is ubiquitous; even casual reminders of the site (e.g., seeing a random girl using Facebook at a public computer terminal) are emotionally devastating to him. He believes that he has been robbed of fame, fortune, and credit, causing him to spiral into an anxious and overwhelming depression. As other reviewers have noted, his resentment toward Zuckerberg (and nearly everyone else, including the president of Harvard, the press, etc.) is palpable. He shares a number of uncomfortable thoughts and inner dialogues, making plain his terrible obsession with the events surrounding the creation of the multi-billion dollar social networking giant. In interviews, Greenspan claims that this book is his crowning achievement. If this is true -- and he has decided to define his life by these intense (and probably unfounded) feelings of betrayal -- it is the saddest part of all. The reader is left to worry about the author's overall mental health, and ability to move forward.

If anything, this book serves as a painful reminder of what can happen when one chooses to dwell too deeply on misfortune and lost opportunities. Almost anything else that Greenspan could have done with his time would have been better spent instead of writing this book.
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7 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Robert E. Morgan on June 21, 2008
Format: Hardcover
At some levels, the book is just an absolutely engaging story. At other levels, it shines a harsh light on uncaring, uncreative, and unimaginative people involved at administrative levels of education. At times, you'll be astounded at the depths educational administrators go to squash creativity, deny entrepreneurship, and cover themselves at the expense of providing service to education.

Aaron Greenspan graduated from Harvard. And although he is a successful CEO of his own company (Think Computer), his success came despite his Harvard education. In Authoritas you'll find Aaron struggle to avoid the crushing of the human spirit and the crushing of the innate desire to learn and his determination to provide compassionate assistance to his autistic brother.

Aaron's story is personal, engaging, and important.
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