Saturday, January 10, 2015

Review: More Awesome Than Money by Jim Dwyer

David versus Goliath in Silicon Valley—an epic attempt to take back the Internet 

Their idea was simple. Four NYU undergrads wanted to build a social network that would allow users to control their personal data, instead of surrendering it to big businesses like Facebook. They called it Diaspora. In days, they raised $200,000, and reporters, venture capitalists, and the digital community’s most legendary figures were soon monitoring their progress. Max dreamed of being a CEO. Ilya was the idealist. Dan coded like a pro, and Rafi tried to keep them all on track. But as the months passed and the money ran out, the Diaspora Four fell victim to errors, bad decisions, and their own hubris. In November 2011, Ilya committed suicide. 

Diaspora has been tech news since day one, but the story reaches far beyond Silicon Valley to the now urgent issues about the future of the Internet. With the cooperation of the surviving partners, New York Times bestselling author Jim Dwyer tells a riveting story of four ambitious and naÏve young men who tried to rebottle the genie of personal privacy—and paid the ultimate price.

Received for review.

I wanted to like this more than I did.  It sounded like an interesting story since it was about real life events but it was just plain boring.  Seriously, unless you actually enjoy coding and hacking and such this is just yawn inducing from about the second page.

It didn't help that the men whose stories are told in the book just aren't that likable.  Yes, they are real people so they do have flaws that can be corrected in fictional characters but I frankly didn't care whether these guys succeeded or failed as long as it happened quickly.  And it didn't.  The book went on and on and on detailing every single step of their journey.  The incessant whining about how they never had enough money (despite having initial investments of nearly a quarter million dollars) and other "tough" problems became wearying very quickly.  Not even an entire quart of espresso could keep me awake for this.  It was seriously the equivalent of looking through hundreds of an acquaintance's vacation pictures.  I just didn't care.  Thankfully, since this was a book I could skim through the boring bits (aka 90% of the book).

The author did his best to make their story engaging but you just can't make gold from straw.  If this were a magazine article it would be awesome.  If it were even a short book it would be interesting.  At 346 pages it was intolerable.  The writing is very good but even that couldn't save this for me.  Any message the author may have been trying to convey about privacy online was lost for me.  I really cannot recommend this to anyone except those who truly love coding and hacking.

★★☆☆☆ = Just Okay

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