Tag Archives: Facebook

A Harvard ’04 weighs in on “The Social Network”

How true to life is “The Social Network”?  For what it’s worth, a friend of mine (Harvard ’04) weighs in.

I finally got around to watching the Social Network. I’ve been asked by a few people to make commentary on what was true and false in the movie…Here we go, to the best of my ability:

the social network

Demon(ized)?best of my ability:

1. The Premise: Wanting to get into a Final Club. While there was a certain prestige associated with being a member, you could easily just not be in this scene. I can’t really speak to whether he was obsessed, but it seems a bit tenuous given that the Final Club scene wasn’t a make or break social dealbreaker. But if he thought it was, then he really was a loser!
2. Final Clubs: This could be a whole article in itself.
– “Punching”: this term is correct and I do recall that it involves getting letters under your door
– The scene where there is a guy manning the outside directing the coach bus was actually filmed at the entrance of the Spee Club. The Spee was known to be one of the most open-minded of the clubs. They allowed girls in the front door (not the servants entrance, woot!) and there were no restricted floors for men only.
– Girls arriving on coach buses: I’ve never seen this happen. Nor was there any need to bus girls over for parties. Coach buses were used for punch events out of Boston though. I’ve seen some shady stuff go down inside some clubs, but I don’t think the alumni would allow continual bussing of girls over from another school, once they got wind of it. I was actually one of the few people allowed inside the club the Spee after the alumni banned even their members from entering for 2 months after a “Chinese New Year” party went out of control (I needed to use their Steinway). By out of control, they meant, too many non members were allowed inside. Sadly, it was a rare moment of a club opening itself up but not to be continued.
– Girls were required at punch events. Bringing a good date was important. My friend brought Natalie Portman, for example. I was also there but clearly not nearly as impressive of a date! Tatyana Ali was also there, doing coke.
– Entrance to this club (and any of the clubs) for parties depended on who you knew, which you had to state when the door was opened. This was then verified by that person, who was inside waiting for you.
– Girls could throw parties at the Final Clubs if they knew people in them. I did this at the Fly for the afterparty of a show I produced–it really had nothing to do with being cool or not–it was just if you knew members and asked them nicely.
– The interiors of the clubs ranged from sweet to ghetto. The Spee had a Steinway piano and a real stuffed bear, which went up in flames by accident during a party.
– The Phoenix (which Eduardo Saverin was in) was the club with the most minorities. Punching is based on who you know, so the part about the “diversity punch” is probably just a fabrication.
– The bike room in the Porcelian is true…nobody except members could go past the bike room. The bike room is frankly not that cool and my guess is that the inside is not that much fun, unless there was lots of gay loving going on inside. But either way, this is the most mystical of the clubs because nobody knew what it looked like inside.
– The scene with all the girls stripping, playing poker…I never saw this but some of it was done a bit tongue and cheek.  It’s not really “real” though. Like I said, stuff went down in these clubs but they were typical drunken moments that weren’t different from a fraternity except the requirement to keep the place spic and span.
3. Kirkland House: where Mark lived. This is where I lived too. The interior, exterior and hallways don’t look anything like the movie. Ours was much nicer (but I’m biased). It had the charm of the old New England houses with the crooked, narrow staircases. The dining hall was the only one in Harvard to not have the dark wood paneling–it was light and airy.
4. The Winklevoss Twins: They looked even more annoying in real life.
5. Divya, the Indian sidekick to the twins: Looked even more douchy in real life. I knew with him from freshman year, he was nice but clearly thought highly of himself. This was the casting that was the most off I think.
6. The Facebook Offices: I went to visit in 2007. The movie did a pretty good job of mimicing the feel of the office, but the ceilings were not nearly as high (or the office so large & fancy). There was a cool start-up vibe in the office and I went to their Friday happy hour, where they were discussing installing the first servers for Europe (in Ireland). They also captured in the movie how the desks were put together in quads or so, on wheels. So if there was a new project that needed to be done, they would just wheel themselves into their new project groups! I thought this was the best idea ever.
That’s really all that I am qualified to talk about. Unlike the rumor I spread, I was not the girl who lit Eduardo’s bed on fire and texted him 47 times but I’m a little upset that Harvard classmates thought it could be true!!
Now I should stop procrastinating and do my schoolwork.

Build your products like you make your dinner: Mouth-watering, Easy to Consume, and Tasty

Nick from shearinglayers made a great comment on Monday’s post, so I thought I would expand upon his comparison of how we process food to how we interact with products.  Below is a simple, and by no means comprehensive,  framework that may can shed some light on why certain products are more easily digested than others.

Consumers choose products like they choose a meal. They ask themselves three main questions:

1) How does it look? (Mouth-watering = Clear and appealing value proposition)

-In both food and products, presentation counts. However delicious a food may be, most people will never try it looks unfamiliar and they can’t conceive it’s taste beforehand. Similarly, if your product’s value proposition cannot be communicated without a trial, many people will never give it a chance.

2) How easy is it to eat? (Easy to consume = Simple to use)

-Blue fin crabs may be delicious but you’ll never catch me picking them myself- it’s just too much of a hassle. Similarly, many products can create the desired effect, but require too much discipline to use.

3) How does it taste/how good is it for you? (Tasty = Valued)

-This is obvious for food and products. If people don’t like what they deliver, they won’t use them.

So how would certain certain foods/products stack up?  Let’s see.

FOODS

Lobster- 1: like a sea insect, 2: a pain in the ass, 3: delicious

Wedding cake– 1: beautiful, 2: easy, 3: never as good as it looks

Strawberries– 1: delicious, 2: couldn’t be simpler, 3: god’s candy

PRODUCTS

Twitter– 1: confusing, 2: easy as sms, 3: depends how you use it

Most GTD software– 1: sounds like a good idea, 2: need to change work flow, 3: at the end of the day, disciple, not GTD software, determines what gets done

Pandora– 1: “Internet radio,” I get that, 2: turn it on and don’t look back, 3: the only thing that makes sitting in front of a computer for 14 hours a day bearable

This analysis predicts that online radio is may be more “adoptable” than microblogging.   Thoughts?

Nick from shearingglayers.com made a great comment on Monday’s post. Below I expand upon his analogy of how we process food to how we interact with products.

Choosing a product is like choosing a meal. Three main questions come to mind:

  1. How does it look? (Clear and appealing value proposition)

-In both food and products, presentation counts. However delicious a food may be, most people will never try it looks unfamiliar and they can’t conceive it’s taste beforehand. Similarly, if your product’s value proposition cannot be communicated without a trial, many people will never give it a chance.

  1. How easy is it to eat? (Ease of integration/Simplicity of use)

-Foods like Blue Fin crabs may be delicious but you’ll never catch me picking them myself- it’s just too much of a hassle. Similarly, many products can create the desired effect, but require too much discipline to ever be used.

  1. How does it taste/how good is it for you? (Value delivered)

-This is obvious for food and products. If people don’t like what they deliver, they won’t use them.

How do certain foods/products stack up?

Foods

Lobster- 1: like a sea insect, 2: a pain in the ass, 3: delicious

Wedding cake- 1: beautiful, 2: easy, 3: never as good as it looks

Strawberries- 1: delicious, 2: couldn’t be simpler, 3: god’s candy

Products

Twitter- 1: confusing, 2: easy as sms, 3: depends how you use it

Most GTD software- 1: sounds like a good idea, 2: need to change work flow, 3: at the end of the day, disciple, not GTD software, determines what gets done

Pandora- 1: Radio on the internet, I get that, 2: turn it on and don’t look back, 3: the only thing that makes sitting in front of a computer for 14 hours a day bearable

Anyone else have any product analogies they’d like to add to the mix?

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Online Community Building: Make affiliations more valuable by making people earn them

LOUISVILLE, KY - MAY 26:  Boy Scouts salute th...
Image by Getty Images via Daylife

What happens if you make people do something to earn their affiliation to an online community?  Clearly there is a trade off of quantity for quality but I wonder if you make up in engagement what you lose in volume. Does anyone have good examples of  where this has been done?

Most online (and offline) groups and affiliations only distinguish people by how much they give, and make no effort at accounting for what people actually do. Unfortunately, all the flag waving and fund raising in the world is useless without the people that actually implement the good works.

Take Causes.org* for example. While Causes.org is provides better accountability than most online affiliations because it measures what users donate and how many other people they recruit, they have no means of recognizing people that actually implement the good works.

It always annoys me when I go to a benefit at, say, the New York Philharmonic, and there is a gigantic list of people that have donated money, but no mention of the people that have donated their time, connections, or reputation to make things happen. Similarly, it has always annoyed me that you can just plaster your Facebook or linked-in profile with hundreds of badges of organizations and associations that you have never once lifted a finger for. Sure spreading the word has value, but I think that associations and badges would become more meaningful if one actually had to do something to acquire them.

Look at the Boy Scouts. Do we give away “fire starter” badges to kids just because they want to fill the empty space on their belt? What about black belts in karate? There is a big difference between a dojo where people earn their stripes and one where people pay for them.

Especially now that most work is digitally distributable, there is no reason that one couldn’t harness the social web to actually get actual work done. I might not have $10 at the moment, but I’d be happy to donate 10 minutes of data entry for a FB badge of a cause I believe in.

I am interested in the community building effect of making people earn their affiliation. Does anyone have good examples of  where this has been done?

*Causes.org is a non-profit Facebook application that enables users to identify and support the “cause” (charity) of their choice. Causes users can do three main things: 1) “join” a cause (place a specific charity’s badge on their profile), 2) “donate” to a cause (directly send money to the specified charity through the app), or 3) “raise” for a cause (recruit their friend’s to join and donate). Causes’ 15mm active monthly users make it the 4th most popular Facebook application and thus an incredible hit.

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Free Business Ideas: Time-based Barter Economy Targeted at Entrepreneurs (Timebanking Revamp)

Clock in Kings Cross railway station
Image via Wikipedia

The other day I stumbled across a social experiment called “time banking,” at timebanks.org. Basically, Time Banking is a community improvement movement that revolves around the principle that every person’s time is worth the same (Yes,  quasi-socialist).  Each community creates a “Time Bank” where community members can make “deposits” by lending their time to others and “withdraws”  by calling upon other community members for help.  It facilitates a barter economy with currency denominated in hourly increments of service to your fellow man.

“For every hour you spend doing something for someone in your community, you earn one Time Dollar. Then you have a Time Dollar to spend on having someone do something for you.”

An example.  A lawyer helps a little old lady clean her yard  for an hour.  He ears a credit.  Then he can turn around and get an hour of guitar lessons from another guy around the corner.  The guitar player could then ask for cooking lessons, perhaps but not necessarily from the little old  lady.

During boom times, when everyone has more business than they can handle (ie. plenty of money but no time), this idea seems silly.  But in the midst of steep recession, when everyone has no money but plenty of free time, the concept might be once again applicable.  A year ago, it might have seemed crazy for a lawyer to swap services hour for hour with a plumber whose market rate is 1/5 his own.   But if the lawyer has nothing else to be doing and no way of generating business at his billable rate, is it so crazy for him to save the $50 needed to fix his sink by spending an hour helping his plumber resolve a legal dispute?

I think the concept of bartering services is particularly applicable to startups, a group that is always short on cash.  In fact, a good bootstrapping entrepreneur will  always barter services, whenever it is pragmatic, to preserve cash.   This happens all the time, albeit informally.

Time Banking started almost 30 years ago and has spread to “22 countries in six continents” according to the official website.  A  quick google search for “time bank your zip code” will almost certainly produce a small community website.  Unfortunately, the success of Time Banking appears to have been limited by the onerous setup costs.  If your community doesn’t  have an existing infrastructure, you are urged to set one up by buying a “Time Banking Start-up Kit for just $49! With the kit, you get a six month membership, access to the coordinator forum, and a 4.5 minute DVD from the founder of time banking!!!”

WTF?!? 

$49 to join a social network and get a DVD of some old dude talking about something he did three decades ago?

It sounds like a con scheme but no, this is actually a rather sizable nonprofit organization operating on a pre-internet infrastructure.

Check it out for yourselves.  Is there anyone out there that would be interested in writing a Facebook application to bring this concept into the 20th century*?  Seems like you could add a lot of value to startups that have complementary skills.

*Yes, they have a page, but I see no reason why the whole infrastructure shouldn’t  be put up on the web.

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