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The Boy Kings: A Journey into the Heart of the Social Network by [Losse, Katherine]
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The Boy Kings: A Journey into the Heart of the Social Network Kindle Edition

3.7 out of 5 stars 42 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“In her dark, hypnotic memoir of working at Facebook during its rising years, Katherine Losse tests Mark Zuckerberg’s dogmatic belief in transparency’s inherent good by removing the privacy controls on his own life. The result is a reluctantly Machiavellian guidebook to Silicon Valley — and a strong endorsement for maintaining a separate social life rather than a fully public “pics or it didn’t happen” one." --The Daily


"The Boy Kings needs a place on your summer reading list. Losse made me think twice about how I socialize with people, and how exactly that came to be--and it just might encourage you to hop offline and appreciate non-virtual reality." --Glamour

About the Author

Katherine Losse was born in Phoenix, Arizona, and holds a master’s degree in English from Johns Hopkins University. She lives in Marfa, Texas.

Product Details

  • File Size: 1759 KB
  • Print Length: 258 pages
  • Publisher: Free Press; Reprint edition (June 26, 2012)
  • Publication Date: June 26, 2012
  • Sold by: Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B007MAXH38
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #398,390 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition
The media attempted to show this book as a tell-all about the culture of working for Facebook (which it does, to an extent) and seeing what really drives Mark Zuckerberg and makes him tick (which it doesn't). First and foremost, this book is about the adventures of Kate Losse and her journey up the ladder of Facebook, a story made all the more remarkable considering the male-dominated culture she worked in.

Losse takes us on a ride that begins with a Johns Hopkins graduate joining Facebook's customer-support team, through to her promotion to the Internationalization team, and shooting all the way up to being Zuckerberg's official ghostwriter. The story goes back and forth between reading like a description of her work culture and reading like a lengthy diary entry, as she goes from stories of AIM chats (using AIM at work was a requirement) and long hours into the night (as the engineers were often required when writing algorithms) to parties in Las Vegas and annual trips to the Coachella music festival.

Although the book is extremely well written, it is not particularly memorable and at times Losse's thoughts, although thought-provoking, become repetitive as she constantly questions whether Facebook is really bringing people together or turning the world into one big virtual reality. If you've seen the movie "The Social Network", then very little of the information presented here - about Facebook's work culture as well as Zuckerberg himself - will come as a surprise. That is the main criticism I have for the book - you don't learn much that you didn't already know or could guess at. The culture is very much like a frat house, with the guys often playing games like chess and beer-pong and sometimes sending erotic messages (usually in fun, but not always) to the female workers.
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Format: Hardcover
This is a thoughtful book about technology, our fetishization of it, and what that can mean in the long run. Clearly written by a person well-grounded in the humanities, this book explores the explosive growth of Facebook with its need for data and more data. The engineers are given free rein to come up with applications, such as photo and video, but never question why they are doing it or what the moral or ethical implications of it are. Users gleefully give over their private data to a company, they live their lives online and in public, but think little of it. Ms. Losse gives an example early on: at a party, she posed covered in a bearskin, doubled over with laughter as Mr. Zuckerberg points to her. The photo is posted on Facebook and the engineers are delighted that they can post the photo, since the app had just been developed; it's the technical achievement that is important, not what the photo is; it could have been a photo of a can of soup for all it mattered. But Ms. Losse considers how the photo could be (mis)interpreted by someone who doesn't know the context. This is not a tell-all; anyone looking for dirt won't find it here. She is grateful for the oppportunities she has had at the company and the financial security it has given her, but she begins to question the direction in which the company is going. The author wants us to consider that just because something can be done does not mean that it should be done. A very worthwhile read.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Facebook, as portrayed in Kate Losse's book The Boy Kings is a case study of Silicon Valley culture in the twenty-first century. In many dimensions, Facebook is an impressive achievement that has taken years of engineering work. As I write this, Facebook has a billion users, spread throughout the world. Ms. Losse was involved in the birth of some of Facebook's first overseas networks and was the program manager for the internationalization effort. Facebook has defined social networking and has changed the way many people interact.

Along with its impressive achievements, the Facebook described by Ms. Loose can also be seen as an exemplar of many of the things that are wrong with The Valley.

In 1956 William Whyte wrote a book titled The Organization Man. In Businessweek, David Leonard writes that The Organization Man was "A critique of society as much as business culture, the book diagnosed groupthink--a term Whyte coined--in the suburbs as well as the boardroom, and became one of the century's most influential pieces of commentary." Although Facebook claims that their ethos is "move fast and break things", what they have created in many ways mirrors the corporations of their Grandfather's generation.

Corporations in the 1950s expected conformity and so it is with Facebook and many other Silicon Valley Companies. I once spoke to a start-up that was building a "App" for the Apple iPhone which, they claimed, was going to change the world (an iPhone App, really?) The actual nature of this change is rarely stated but everyone is supposed to buy into the idea that they are doing transformative work.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
If you think the tech sector is a utopian meritocracy, you're way off. Kate Losse shares her experience as an early Facebook employee outside the sacred grove of the engineering department, where customer service and project management people, mostly women, are treated with a level of respect normally associated with office furniture. It was painful to read parts of this, because of some similarity in culture to where I work, and because it doesn't have a happy ending where any of the institutional problems are solved. This is real life, after all, not a carefully curated series of stream posts.
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