Useful links: Lawmakers, Bookless, CSS for Babies

All 100 US Senators are now on Twitter. Have you used Twitter or Facebook to send a message to your senators, representatives, or the POTUS? I have.

In the “where the world is heading” department, here’s news of the first bookless public library.

Chris at CSS Tricks is having a great time with his CSS for Babies: A Critical Analysis.

Review: Think Like Zuck: The Five Business Secrets of Facebook’s Improbably Brilliant CEO Mark Zuckerberg

Think Like Zuck

Think Like Zuck: The Five Business Secrets of Facebook’s Improbably Brilliant CEO Mark Zuckerberg by Ekaterina Walter is from McGraw Hill, 2013. The book was a surprise in many ways. The biggest reason was the way Ekaterina Walter explained all the things about Facebook that felt annoying over the years and painted them as part of Mark Zuckerberg’s brilliance. The book is about business, not technology, and talks about the vision, passion and principles that have driven Facebook’s growth. The lessons Walter learned from watching Zuckerberg she then discussed in relation to other businesses such as Zappos, Amazon, TOMS, Apple, Threadless, and College Humor.

Walter discusses the “Five P’s” of Zuckerberg’s business style and Facebook’s day to day operations. She organizes the book around these concepts and her examples explain them. They are:

  • Passion: Zuckerberg’s passion is to connect people through technology in a way that is authentic and transparent.
  • Purpose: Facebook’s purpose is “to make the world more open and connected.”
  • People: Zuck has found great people to execute his vision.
  • Product: You have to build something great.
  • Partnerships: No one person can make a dream into a reality.

We’ve seen the results of Zuck’s passion for using the Internet to connect people around the world – using real names. There are a billion people using Facebook, creating a worldwide web of relationships and conversations that gives new meaning to the term worldwide web. The web of connection facilitated by Facebook has created global change. That change is a revolution started by a college dropout who had a vision for how to connect people and executed it from his dorm room when he was 19 years old. It’s remarkable that Zuckerberg stuck to his vision through all the growth, through all the offers to sell, and through all the criticism from outside his burgeoning company.

Facebook’s purpose is “to make the world more open and connected.” To make that happen, the culture within Facebook encourages risk, hacking, and moving fast with boldness. This is all part of the dedication to give Facebook users more ways to connect with friends. Many of the things I’ve written about in complaining tones in the past about Facebook are explained by the the Facebook working culture: the constant changes, the frequent additions to the interface, e.g., the Wall, the News Feed, the Timeline. Much as I may have whined about each new change, I have to admit that they quickly became the thing about Facebook that I most depended on to stay connected.

Mark Zuckerberg is first to give credit to the team that builds Facebook. The people who work there have to believe in the value and importance of Zuck’s dream. They must be dedicated to the execution of that dream. People are hired for attitude rather than skills.

Facebook places people and their connections at the center of its product. Facebook is a technology company but it isn’t about technology or content – it’s about people and their social needs. The passion, the purpose, and the people combine into a product that became part of people’s everyday lives.

The partnership with Sheryl Sandberg explains much about Facebook’s success. Walter talked about how Sheryl Sandberg was a perfect business person to team with Zuckerberg. Walter calls them the Visionary and the Builder or the dream architect and the value architect. Walter pointed to teams at other companies with equally effective but differing skill sets. Examples from Warner Bros., Disney, Hewlett Packard and other businesses are included in the discussion.

I learned a great deal about Facebook from this book. I learned a lot about Mark Zuckerberg and why he’s a phenomenal success. More importantly, I learned about how business culture and attitude can make or break a company. You can read the book to learn about Zuckerberg in the same way that you read the biography of Steve Jobs, but I suggest you read the book to absorb the lessons about “the Five P’s” and apply them to your own business efforts.

Summary: Business owners, tech innovators and entrepreneurs of all stripes can learn valuable principles from this book.

A review by Virginia DeBolt of Think Like Zuck: The Five Business Secrets of Facebook’s Improbably Brilliant CEO Mark Zuckerberg (rating: 5 stars).

Disclosure: The publisher provided a review copy of this book, but my opinions are my own.

Syndicated on

Wolfram | Alpha Data Mining Your Facebook

wolfram alpha

Wolfram | Alpha announced a new tool that lets anyone do personal analytics on their Facebook data. Stephen Wolfram described the new capabilities:

Wolfram|Alpha knows about all kinds of knowledge domains; now it can know about you, and apply its powers of analysis to give you all sorts of personal analytics. And this is just the beginning; over the months to come, particularly as we see about how people use this, we’ll be adding more and more capabilities.

It’s pretty straightforward to get your personal analytics report: all you have to do is type “facebook report” into the standard Wolfram|Alpha website.

Stephen Wolfram also stated:

The personal analytics system we’re releasing today is just the beginning. We’re looking forward to everyone’s feedback . . . and we’re planning to keep adding more and more features and capabilities.

You have to authenticate the app to run in Facebook. Then you get a report showing dozens of charts and graphs that use your Facebook account to form a report with over 60 sets of data.

Here are a few of the results you get from the app:

  • a map of your friends’ hometowns
  • age distribution of your friends
  • today’s weather and other information about your location
  • time until your next birthday
  • the various types of posts you add to Facebook categorized and a weekly distribution of your updates
  • average post length, average number of comments, likes
  • word clouds from your posts
  • gender and age distribution of your friends
  • relationship status of your friends
  • most common names among your friends
  • who you share friends in common with
  • a chart of friend distribution in a network showing connectors and hubs

Individual charts from the report can be “clipped and shared” on a web page or in Facebook.

I’m sure people will be fascinated with seeing all their Facebook facts displayed this way. We are a nation of navel watchers. Some people who use Facebook Pages for business promotion may find the data helpful in deciding what works in promoting their brand. The important thing is, at least for now, you can only gather this information on your own account.


What’s Your Favorite Email Address? Facebook Knows.

Facebook email has been around for a while, but not many people were using it as their primary email. Recently, Facebook decided for you that you would love to have your Facebook email as your primary email on Facebook. Or, as Kashmir Hill, writing at Forbes, put it: Facebook’s Lame Attempt To Force Its Email Service On You. Kashmir explains,

On your profile page, Facebook has taken the liberty of making your Facebook email your default contact address.

Here’s how to change that to the address you want. Start with your own profile page.

Virginia's Facebook profile

On your profile page, find the “About” link and click it. In your profile, find the Contact Info section. You will probably see your email listed as a address.

Contact Info

Click the Edit button for the Contact Info. There’s a pull down menu across from any email addresses you have listed. The two options on that menu are Shown on Timeline and Hidden from Timeline.

hidden from timeline

Choose Hidden from Timeline so that your email of choice is not the Facebook address.

Don’t forget to Save your changes. That’s all there is to it. Facebook’s control over your inbox is vanquished.

At Producer Matthew, who works for Reuters, we can see a letter from Facebook in which they explain their thinking in making this change. From their point of view, it’s just another option you can control on Facebook:

Ever since the launch of timeline, people have had the ability to control what posts they want to show or hide on their own timelines, and today we’re extending that to other information they post, starting with the Facebook address.

Gizmodo called this latest Facebook move “ham-handed” saying,

Facebook, it’s probably safe to say that the way we all had our things before was the “choice” we made about “which addresses…show on [our] timelines.” This wasn’t about choice—in fact, it was the opposite. You chose for us.

Is there anyone who was actually using their address as their primary email and liked it that way? I email a lot of people and have never used a address for anyone.

That’s a rather minor point, however. The real point is that Facebook not only expects you to be ever vigilant with your privacy settings (because they won’t) but also to edit your profile with good cheer when they decide to change your primary email choice for you. Without even asking.

[Note: Cross posted at BlogHer.]

Useful links: Speaker Tips, Facebook email, your Twitter self

So you’ve been invited to speak is from Lea Verou who has some excellent tips for people who are doing presentations that involve coding. Wish her advice about IDEs was tattooed on the brain of every speaker I’ve every watched.

Facebook just changed your email without your permission. Here’s how to get it back.

Lately, I’m sort of obsessed with the idea of analyzing people based on what they post on Twitter. It seems like there’s a website that’s supposed to do that . . . am I making this up or is there such a website?

Thoughts On Being Iconic: Is Facebook an American Icon?

Think about cultural icons. You know, things like The Statue of Liberty or movie lines like “Of all the gin joints, in all the towns, in all the world, she walks into mine.” Think about Apple products. Think about Facebook.

That’s right. I said Facebook.

How can I think Facebook is iconic? Because it’s now become a symbol. I don’t mean a symbol on the stock exchange. I’m talking about a symbol of a way of life, of a generation, of a movement. And here’s proof in the form of Katy Perry’s latest video.

Facebook is no longer just a social media site. It’s now a way of communicating something about life and art that transcends social media. In other words, a cultural icon. If Andy Warhol were here, he would paint Facebook.

So what does it take to become iconic? Here are Virginia’s rules on becoming iconic.

1. Everybody has to Know about Whatever IT Is

Everybody knows about Facebook. Even if they don’t use it. In the U.S.A. about 59% of the online population uses it. The rest of the people just listen to endless news reports about it.

What is something everyone know about that you consider iconic?

2. Everybody has to Value Whatever IT Stands For

Everybody knows about The Statue of Liberty, too. But it’s more that just knowing about it. It stands for something important.

The Statue of Liberty = freedom. The Land of the Free. That’s what we are and we have Lady Liberty to remind you. You love freedom, right? Me, too. I scream, you scream, we all scream for freedom. We all feel a thrill when we see Lady Liberty standing in New York Harbor. We all recognize her image as she lifts her light. Why? Because we all value freedom.

Freedom is so important we are willing to die for it. The things that symbolize freedom – be they statues, flags, slogans or images – stand for those things we cherish and value. They are iconic.

What iconic symbol stands for something you value?

3. You Have to Love IT Every Single Time

Every time you watch “Casablanca” you love it, right? You can throw out lines like, “I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship,” in appropriate spots and everybody knows what you are referring to because they all loved “Casablanca” too.

It bears rewatching. You never get tired of it. You’ll go out at midnight to see it on the big screen. It’s a cultural touchstone. It’s iconic.

I could have picked something more modern than “Casablanca.” Perhaps “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” When a story like Joss Whedon’s favorite ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ episodes to marathon on LOGO makes national news, you’re dealing with the iconic.

What iconic bit of culture do you love every single time?

4. IT Can Excite and Thrill

Just looking at it, touching it, using it, has to be exciting. Has to thrill you and make you feel cool and powerful and fabulous. I’m thinking of Apple’s product line here: everything from the first aqua iMac to the minimalist interface of the iPod to the sleek and brilliant iPad. This rule applies to anything extraordinarily beautiful as well as to anything that works effortlessly and beautifully.

It’s so cool to carry or wear or be around that you are cool too. We all agree on this. We bestow coolness on you because you are smart enough to have this iconic thing beside you.

What beautifully designed and thrilling thing do you consider iconic?

5. Stories Are the Road to Iconic

We love stories. We tell stories to each other, we read stories, we follow stories on TV, we watch stories in the theater. We get personally attached and involved with the stories we love. We’re passionate about our stories, our characters. I think having a great story helps make the ordinary iconic. So many of our icons came from stories. The emotional connection comes from the story, from the idea, not from the thing.

If you set out to create something that everyone would know about and love and enjoy time and again, how would you do it? How would you create something iconic that would endure through generations and across cultures? Would you start with a good story?

I think you’d have to have a good story. That’s my step one.

What do you think is the next step?

[Note: Cross-posted at BlogHer.]