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More Awesome Than Money: Four Boys and Their Heroic Quest to Save Your Privacy from Facebook

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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 digi 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.


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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 digi 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.

30 review for More Awesome Than Money: Four Boys and Their Heroic Quest to Save Your Privacy from Facebook

  1. 4 out of 5

    Hilary

    In 2010, four then-students heard Eben Moglen talk about surrendering privacy to cloud systems and realized they wanted a way to balance convenience, connections and privacy without giving up control over themselves and their own data to Facebook. And thus Diaspora was born. The dream was a federated, user-controlled social network which didn't restrict people to either sharing with the whole world or only those who were on the same social network. It's well-written, as unbiased as possible and v In 2010, four then-students heard Eben Moglen talk about surrendering privacy to cloud systems and realized they wanted a way to balance convenience, connections and privacy without giving up control over themselves and their own data to Facebook. And thus Diaspora was born. The dream was a federated, user-controlled social network which didn't restrict people to either sharing with the whole world or only those who were on the same social network. It's well-written, as unbiased as possible and very factual. There were a couple of diversions away from the primary story and into internet history (censorship and browser wars) but it was all essential information to ensure readers fully understand the problems and issues. I was one of the non-programming users eagerly following their progress, losing track of Diaspora during the long silences and eventually giving up as it completely fell off the radar, so seeing the whole story was both enlightening and awe-inspiring. We tend to hear about either the sudden successes or the incredible failures, but very little about the hard work, persistence and occasional despair that accompanies others. Does Diaspora count as a success or a failure? It depends on your perspective. This can serve as both a template and a warning for other startups - technical or otherwise - as it appears that more business acumen upfront may have been helpful, and the importance of clear, frequent communication and revisiting roles. I'd recommend this for anyone with an interest in internet privacy or tech startups. Disclaimer: I received a free copy from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

  2. 5 out of 5

    L.A. Starks

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. A well-written, well-researched book set in places with which I've become more familiar. I recommend it, in part because it shows the fast pace of tech ideas, the difficulty in developing competitive advantage, and the problems sudden fame and money can bring to a start-up. Looks like Diaspora itself has devolved these days to porn, etc. in the U.S. But if you feel paranoid after reading the book, try the DuckDuckGo search engine... A well-written, well-researched book set in places with which I've become more familiar. I recommend it, in part because it shows the fast pace of tech ideas, the difficulty in developing competitive advantage, and the problems sudden fame and money can bring to a start-up. Looks like Diaspora itself has devolved these days to porn, etc. in the U.S. But if you feel paranoid after reading the book, try the DuckDuckGo search engine...

  3. 4 out of 5

    Darren

    This book matches perfectly many startup businesses I have seen. A great concept, an interesting story and a fair bit going for it, yet it falls over with its execution and runs slightly out of steam. The story is undeniably interesting. Four young people wanted to build a social network that would give Facebook a black eye and would allow the users to better control their own personal data. From a dream and some coding to crowdfunding and latterly seeking to get additional financing for the proj This book matches perfectly many startup businesses I have seen. A great concept, an interesting story and a fair bit going for it, yet it falls over with its execution and runs slightly out of steam. The story is undeniably interesting. Four young people wanted to build a social network that would give Facebook a black eye and would allow the users to better control their own personal data. From a dream and some coding to crowdfunding and latterly seeking to get additional financing for the project – Diaspora as it was known – had it all. The book takes you through the entire process, the highs and the lows of the project, allowing you to peek behind the curtain and it also gets the reader thinking about the bigger picture and whether it is too late to put the personal data genie back in the bottle. Unfortunately the book rambles on a fair bit, gets out of focus and seems to be unsure whether it is an accurate reference work about the social network that (so far) hasn’t gained significant traction or whether it is a pseudo action-thriller. In too many chapters it was far too easy to start skim reading past defocussed, relatively irrelevant fluff. Think of a good one-hour television documentary that has been stretched to four one-part transmissions as a series, fleshed out with a corresponding lack of focus, drive and tempo: that’s how this book felt. There is a great story to tell, there is a lot of potential but sadly it is not met. It is frustrating. This book could have documented a great phenomena and been a superb reference work suitable for students of so many disciplines. The core is there but the dream wasn’t realised. It is built as being study-friendly: a lot of further reading notes and citations and the promise of a detailed index (the index wasn’t present in the pre-release copy). If you look at the book as you might a piece of software. It feels like version 1.0 of something. A basic product has been delivered. It has potential but it just doesn’t feel ready for the market yet… a bit like the social media network it is writing about maybe! More Awesome Than Money: Four Boys and Their Heroic Quest to Save Your Privacy from Facebook, written by Jim Dwyer and published by Penguin Group/Viking. ISBN 9780670025602, 384 pages. YYY

  4. 5 out of 5

    Kevin

    I received this book as a firstread, my thanks to the publisher for sending it. A very interesting and informative book.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Ebony

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I just finished More Awesome Than Money. I wasn’t sure I was going to. Any book that starts with the physical characteristics of a white male character generally turns me off. There were too many details in general. Like, I didn’t care about all of the histories or the arrangement of office furniture. Okay, there weren’t any descriptions of office furniture, but the details were often laborious. In general, the book required a lot of patience. I had to have faith that all the details were going I just finished More Awesome Than Money. I wasn’t sure I was going to. Any book that starts with the physical characteristics of a white male character generally turns me off. There were too many details in general. Like, I didn’t care about all of the histories or the arrangement of office furniture. Okay, there weren’t any descriptions of office furniture, but the details were often laborious. In general, the book required a lot of patience. I had to have faith that all the details were going to pay off. Dwyer would start chapters in the middle of an event and I spent the entire chapter learning how and why we got to where he started. I suppose that’s the nature of telling a story that the reader already knows pretty much how it ends. I had never heard of Diaspora so I knew that the team’s plans weren’t going to go as planned. I read to understand why. I didn’t need 346 pages, though. Having ridden the entrepreneur roller coaster, I loved the drama of the story. I knew it was authentic because I’d been there. It was like being in really good company. I was thinking I’d share the book with a former student at the beginning of his entrepreneurial cycle and then I thought better of it. As the book proves, grand plans are best hatched in ignorance otherwise no one would undertake them. Of course, their grand devastation was greater than anything I experienced but I understood exactly how it could happen in this world. Dwyer also did a good job of setting the stage for the denouement. As a person who consistently thinks about the social implications of technology, the messages about internet privacy and decentralization were thought-provoking. That part will always make the book viable no matter how technology changes. We should always ask ourselves questions about Internet privacy and decentralization. The Diaspora ideas were solid. It was the execution that overwhelmed them. As is often the case. All in all, there are important lessons to be learned in More Awesome Than Money about entrepreneurship, leadership, friendship, and of course, technology.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Stephen Redwood

    Technology coding start-up culture in all its, more often than not painful, glory is encapsulated perfectly by the story of Diaspora. Diaspora is a social network site launched in 2010 and started by a group of four young men who had the grand and laudable ambition to build a FB that respects the privacy of users. They lived on mattresses, went through funding crises, argued (a lot) about coding minutiae and strategic considerations alike. They built global support for their plans to develop an Technology coding start-up culture in all its, more often than not painful, glory is encapsulated perfectly by the story of Diaspora. Diaspora is a social network site launched in 2010 and started by a group of four young men who had the grand and laudable ambition to build a FB that respects the privacy of users. They lived on mattresses, went through funding crises, argued (a lot) about coding minutiae and strategic considerations alike. They built global support for their plans to develop an open software platform, with enthusiastic help from techies and non-techies alike. Often it seems like a fools quest, but it’s one that has its moment in the sun, before the realities hit home of investor expectations, the fickleness of supporters, and the sheer ongoing stress of the effort in the face of an established, massive marketplace in which consumers have already willingly given up their personal information for the sake of something “free”. Unsurprisingly, that took a toll. It’s a fascinating story in many ways, and eye opening about the sheer grind of the start up world. But you have to like detail and be interested in every twist and turn along the way to stick with Dwyer as he tells the story. It as much a study of human relationships in the start up petrie dish as a tale of young coders building a tool. This was a grand effort with some high principles driving it and we would all have done well to have given it more attention, given where we stand now with the privacy concerns surrounding FB. The group of four Diaspora founders saw in real time what we were all giving up without a second thought, and we never listened. Without that context, this could have been any tale of a bunch of people building a business from scratch, and I’m not sure I would have felt enough pull to get me through the whole book. No question, this was a somewhat heroic and idealistic effort, and those young men deserve kudos and admiration for trying.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Laura Walker

    I probably would have enjoyed this more if I was more technically oriented, but it was still a good read. Four college students work on software to allow sharing on a social network basis with greater control over privacy. The book follows their efforts and the notoriety that they achieve. An interesting discussion of the venture capital circuit. The book also explores the personality issues and conflicts among the four guys. I was not familiar with the story before reading the book. I am sure i I probably would have enjoyed this more if I was more technically oriented, but it was still a good read. Four college students work on software to allow sharing on a social network basis with greater control over privacy. The book follows their efforts and the notoriety that they achieve. An interesting discussion of the venture capital circuit. The book also explores the personality issues and conflicts among the four guys. I was not familiar with the story before reading the book. I am sure it is similar to many start ups that don’t quite make it.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Luke

    This book was a struggle. I learned of the Diaspora project when it was new, and I thought this would open my eyes to updates I had missed over the years. Unfortunately, this book focused way too heavily on unimportant details. This was not about the Diaspora project. It was about how kids who didn't know what they were doing in the world wasted time and money. Don't let it waste yours. This book was a struggle. I learned of the Diaspora project when it was new, and I thought this would open my eyes to updates I had missed over the years. Unfortunately, this book focused way too heavily on unimportant details. This was not about the Diaspora project. It was about how kids who didn't know what they were doing in the world wasted time and money. Don't let it waste yours.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Willem Van

    Heartbreaking rendering of the Diaspora project

  10. 5 out of 5

    Mike Madden

    Seemed like they could've just stayed in school/gotten real jobs and done this on the side. Seemed like they could've just stayed in school/gotten real jobs and done this on the side.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Robert Segura

    Tom Cruise, [email protected](& Yeah!

  12. 4 out of 5

    John

    This book describes the four young men who created Diaspora* [no footnote - that's how Diaspora is written] which was intended to be a Facebook-like application providing for significant user control over the ownership of the user's data. Diaspora is real: You can download it and run your own "pod" to provide for social networking for a group, with connections to other pods. The book was dissatisfying. I expected a lot because I loved Dwyer's prior book on the fall of the Twin Towers, 102 Minutes This book describes the four young men who created Diaspora* [no footnote - that's how Diaspora is written] which was intended to be a Facebook-like application providing for significant user control over the ownership of the user's data. Diaspora is real: You can download it and run your own "pod" to provide for social networking for a group, with connections to other pods. The book was dissatisfying. I expected a lot because I loved Dwyer's prior book on the fall of the Twin Towers, 102 Minutes, which is a worthy read. [In retrospect, I would level some of the same critique against that earlier book: Not enough why/proving. But in that case the story was so gripping I didn't care.] Without giving away too much of a spoiler, there are some very sad outcomes here, but Dwyer never really works toward any answers to the "why" questions. To be sure, he's a reporter, but I still need some deeper analysis. Some of the answers would have to do with the abuse of young people by the investment structures in venture capital, and with what amounts to neglect of personal needs (physical, spiritual, mental) among young people involved in high tech. The book tends to restrain itself from judging these young men, but they seem pretty ignorant of building a company or the details of software development for what turns out to be a pretty big project. The book's title refers to the four young men as "boys" which seems like a purchase-bait from the press - I don't think Dwyer condescends to them that way. So what's missing? A few things. A key player early on is one Yosem Companys, who was an engineering PhD student at Stanford when he got involved with Diaspora. For awhile, he was the CEO. Yosem brought a lot of maturity to the company, but at the same time, his motives aren't deeply probed. We learn along the way that he is ill, but we don't learn much about the outcome or how that affected his situation toward the end. Another person who is sadly neglected is Sarah Mei. Mei was (probably is) an employee at Pivotal, and that company gave office space to Diaspora. She contributed a lot of code to the project, and for awhile was going to be their lead engineer. Sarah is incredibly smart, and appears here as merely a bit player. I believe she would have a lot to say about Diaspora, but she is barely quoted. Maybe she didn't want to be foregrounded, but it's a shame that we don't learn more about her intervention. Again, on the "why" question. These guys really drank the kool-aid for valley-style web/product development. They are surrounded by smart mentors. Why didn't any of these mentors stress more the strains of the environment, and the low likelihood of a positive exit/conclusion for the project? The whole setup of Diaspora was weak. The four young men all took mostly engineering roles, and they didn't have a solid "product" role or "business guy" role. Another puzzle is that with all those mentors, how come no one reinforced to them the obviously "feminized" nature of much online social media like Facebook? Starting at about the half-way mark, they begin to talk about making the product easier to use for "girls" but the concept isn't really taken seriously. In short: Some analysis might tell us that young men in 2010 or so were profoundly ill-equipped to come to grips with the social energies around what they're building -- that's an important story! They kicked Diaspora* off from the idea of free software and personal liberty, but didn't really get the "marketing" right -- or even research the basic question as to whether "real people" would care. (Yes, they got hundreds of thousands of requests for signups, but so what . . . Been there.) I'd say more, but that would require spoilers.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Mathew Whitney

    I received this book free through Goodreads' First Reads program. I had a hard time choosing between 3 and 4 stars for More Awesome Than Money: Four Boys and Their Heroic Quest to Save Your Privacy from Facebook. I felt the story of the quest these four young men undertook to build a new social network was well told. It can be difficult to make tech stories come across as interesting to the layman, and I can't really say whether Jim Dwyer has accomplished that. As a software developer myself, I fo I received this book free through Goodreads' First Reads program. I had a hard time choosing between 3 and 4 stars for More Awesome Than Money: Four Boys and Their Heroic Quest to Save Your Privacy from Facebook. I felt the story of the quest these four young men undertook to build a new social network was well told. It can be difficult to make tech stories come across as interesting to the layman, and I can't really say whether Jim Dwyer has accomplished that. As a software developer myself, I found the story engrossing, though the focus was definitely not on code. Instead, it was on the moral and intellectual issues that drove these people (and the many who funded their efforts and wanted to help them), the sometimes insane venture-capital-meets-technology environment of silicon valley and the San Francisco bay area, and how different individuals, with very different personalities, deeply engrossed in that environment handle the pressures. At the same time, I found many distractions in some inaccuracies when covering general concepts and background tech-history which had to be either attempts to simplify concepts to make it more accessible or just mis-understandings (or the occasional difficulties in finding accurate information when researching the history elements). For example, a digression into the history of the Firefox browser (as part of an attempt to give a point of comparison for, and some context to, the type of changes these men might be able to bring about) didn't really mesh well with my own memory of that history. The browser's original name, Phoenix (which embraced its origins, even if they couldn't keep the name) was not mentioned, and Firefox was represented as the project to replace Netscape Navigator (when that was SeaMoneky/the Mozilla Suite, while Phoenix/Firebird/Firefox was a separate project to create a lean, stripped-down version of the SeaMonkey browser). Overall, I think the author did a good job of presenting the story in a way which could appeal to non-technical readers, I just don't know if many of them will care. In a way, it's much like the project the book covers. There just doesn't seem to be enough concern over what the U.S. government has accomplished in destroying the rights of its citizens, or the influence that corporations and money have over that government, and the information those corporations are capable of gathering in return for services which do far more for them than they do for us. If people aren't concerned about these issues, what will make them want to read a book about 4 college students who decided they needed to do something about it?

  14. 5 out of 5

    Amy Lawton

    Full disclosure: I received the book for free through Goodreads First Reads. I'm a graduate student with an overwhelming reading load, and I still dedicated time to finish reading "More Awesome Than Money" in just two days. (Apologies to my ethics professor, for whom I did not complete the assigned reading.) The story is unbelievably gripping: Four extremely young men decide to do something damn near impossible, and because they don't know it's impossible, they almost pull it off. You may be think Full disclosure: I received the book for free through Goodreads First Reads. I'm a graduate student with an overwhelming reading load, and I still dedicated time to finish reading "More Awesome Than Money" in just two days. (Apologies to my ethics professor, for whom I did not complete the assigned reading.) The story is unbelievably gripping: Four extremely young men decide to do something damn near impossible, and because they don't know it's impossible, they almost pull it off. You may be thinking, "Well, I'm on Goodreads, publishing book reviews under my real name, so I don't care about privacy, really." You're forgiven for thinking that, as it is a common enough mistake. The really valuable data (be it valuable to social networking sites or spies -- same difference, really) comes from gathering information about your online habits, not the content of your profiles or messages. A simple review of my web browser history would reveal, to the discerning NSA snoop, where I live, who I live with, what my dietary preferences are, and therefore where and with whom I'm likely to be eating this Friday night. I find that absolutely terrifying. Anonymity is not privacy (hence the presence of my full name on this site), not if you know where I'm getting dinner. I support the goals of the Diaspora Four, particularly because, as a millennial myself, my identity was very much developed online. When I got to the title page for Part Two and saw its heading -- Ilya's quote, "Yo, This Is Our Internet" -- I laughed a little because I've said almost the same thing. I'm not a techie, not a hacker, not even a little bit interested in what makes it all go, but I'm a privacy advocate. As my laptop decal says, "This Machine Kills Fascists." If any of this resonates with you, you must read this book.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Amber

    I had to smile for just a second when I clicked "I'm finished" and looked at that little FB icon that allows me to connect to the site, if I had an account. I think this is an interesting book, though maybe not for the reasons you might be inclined to believe. The book is well written and surprisingly kept me, a so-called "girl" in the lingo of the book, engaged throughout (I received this advanced copy through Goodreads as a first-reads winner, and while there was grammatical errors and such I' I had to smile for just a second when I clicked "I'm finished" and looked at that little FB icon that allows me to connect to the site, if I had an account. I think this is an interesting book, though maybe not for the reasons you might be inclined to believe. The book is well written and surprisingly kept me, a so-called "girl" in the lingo of the book, engaged throughout (I received this advanced copy through Goodreads as a first-reads winner, and while there was grammatical errors and such I'm sure those will be taken care of by the time of publication). This book is a snapshot in the history of four young men who set out to create Diaspora*, a social media site that would allow users to retain their privacy rights and share information in a different way than the super FB giant. I'm by no means "beard" or in anyway a computer superstar but the author walked me through the foreign parts of the hacker universe as well as the hacker culture. Yes, it covers a relatively recent set of events and yes, there are thousands of start-ups that the author could have chosen. This story was different in the ideological premise and the huge amount of public support the program received monetarily, philosophically and contributed code that still exists. In reading the book I found it to be an awesome reflection of organizational behavior. These boys failed, which in itself makes me want to thank the author for telling a story without a superhero. For showing that there is value in sharing stories where people are real, where mistakes and egos happen and where people lose their way. These 1% boys were young, inexperienced and given a lot of prestige and power and it sunk their project to a large extent. Rest in peace Ilya. I didn't know you in person, but I caught just the tiniest spark of your spirit through this book.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Laura (Book Scrounger)

    This was an interesting book. I'm not a "techie" or computer geek, and had never heard of Diaspora (that I remember) before reading this, so I certainly had a bit to learn, but the book was good at providing background and not delving too deeply into "tech speak." So, the book did a good job of making something into a story that to me would otherwise have been basically a non-story. The author definitely had to meld a bunch of different perspectives into one story to try and capture the different This was an interesting book. I'm not a "techie" or computer geek, and had never heard of Diaspora (that I remember) before reading this, so I certainly had a bit to learn, but the book was good at providing background and not delving too deeply into "tech speak." So, the book did a good job of making something into a story that to me would otherwise have been basically a non-story. The author definitely had to meld a bunch of different perspectives into one story to try and capture the different versions of certain events, which must have been tricky. Still, even though this story didn't bore me (and sucked me in quite a bit toward the end because I wanted to see how things turned out), it seemed like it was still at an arm's length to me. I felt like I did sort of "get to know" the people mentioned, but couldn't quite identify with them, which is certainly nothing against the book or the author... it is what it is. However, I did feel like the treatment of Ilya's suicide near the end was really lacking something. Like, detailed reactions, feeling, emotion - anything! It was given a very deadpan treatment. Maybe the author was trying not to sensationalize, but after so much writing about this person, I wanted more than just a narrative account of the deed and the funeral. Anyway, I do feel like I learned a lot from reading this, and while I'm sure I'm too tech-illiterate to become a Diaspora user anytime soon, the author did mostly seem to capture the heart of what was behind this experiment, and I found that fairly compelling. In compliance with FTC guidelines, I disclose that I received this book for free through GoodReads' First Reads. I was not required to write a positive review.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Nancy

    In Progress: More than halfway, but i wanted to get some initial thoughts out before the publication date, as I did receive an Advanced Reader Copy through the Goodreads Firstreads program. As of now I would give this a 2.5 if I could. Since I can't, it's getting a 2. Overall, it is a good story, and the author is clearly the most competent person to write the book, as he was perfectly situated within the whole story, as it was happening. The book is, however, mind numbingly repetitious and draw In Progress: More than halfway, but i wanted to get some initial thoughts out before the publication date, as I did receive an Advanced Reader Copy through the Goodreads Firstreads program. As of now I would give this a 2.5 if I could. Since I can't, it's getting a 2. Overall, it is a good story, and the author is clearly the most competent person to write the book, as he was perfectly situated within the whole story, as it was happening. The book is, however, mind numbingly repetitious and drawn out, which is why (with school starting as well) I haven't finished it yet. I so badly want to read the ending see how it all works out, but each reading is just too painful. I've read "long" books before, and it's never bothered me because I enjoy detail - but all this detail isn't necessary, doesn't advance the novel in any way. That being said, I do enjoy the histories of the modern Internet and browsers, and feel like I have learned a lot already. I just wish it was a better written novel. I also don't appreciate the characterizations of the four main characters, and the tropes they're put into. Also if I have to read 'pizza-eating' or some reference to pizza used metonymically again, I don't know if I'll have the fortitude to keep reading. In general there are just too many tired tropes. I'm also dreading reading about Ilya's death (which is not a spoiler, as it is right on the back cover), because the back cover was very sensationalist. It makes me worried that the death of a real person, with real friends and family still alive, will not be treated with respect. Again, I am only 3/4 through, so I have not yet read it; this is just my fear.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Yitka

    Terrific storytelling about four young, bright, optimistic guys with a big dream of changing the world. Jim Dwyer does a wonderful job painting their personalities and weaving together complicated narrative threads, and I found it difficult to put the book down; I was absolutely hooked and always wanting to know what happened next. I enjoyed getting an insider look at startup culture in Silicon Valley, particularly through the eyes of such young, often naive characters, rather than seasoned entr Terrific storytelling about four young, bright, optimistic guys with a big dream of changing the world. Jim Dwyer does a wonderful job painting their personalities and weaving together complicated narrative threads, and I found it difficult to put the book down; I was absolutely hooked and always wanting to know what happened next. I enjoyed getting an insider look at startup culture in Silicon Valley, particularly through the eyes of such young, often naive characters, rather than seasoned entrepreneurs. In fact, this is precisely what makes this book so compelling--that it's about failure in Silicon Valley, rather than success. Most of the books I know are about the latter, despite the fact that the former is far more common. Ultimately it's a bit of a downer, as you watch so much promise and hope and enthusiasm get whittled away over the course of the book--but nevertheless a wonderfully told story about real events. I do feel it got a little too caught up in mundane, and often repetitive details, in the middle third of the book, and I found my interest lagging a bit as the narrative pace slowed (perhaps to mirror the slowing pace of the guys' enthusiasm for their own project as well ... ) though it picked back up toward the end. I read this rather ravenously over the course of a few days and it still has me turning many of the ideas and lessons in it over in my head. Full disclosure: I received a free copy of this book through the First Reads program.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Kristen

    More Awesome than money: Four Boys and Their Heroic to Save Your Privacy from Facebook is the fascinating story of the four college student idealists who raised $200,000 through a Kickstarter campaign to attempt to launch a company that would attempt to address the privacy concerns raised by Facebook's collection and control of user data. Unable to monetize the idea, their company, Diaspora, eventually was rolled into a non-profit group. The book tells the story from the genesis of the idea, thr More Awesome than money: Four Boys and Their Heroic to Save Your Privacy from Facebook is the fascinating story of the four college student idealists who raised $200,000 through a Kickstarter campaign to attempt to launch a company that would attempt to address the privacy concerns raised by Facebook's collection and control of user data. Unable to monetize the idea, their company, Diaspora, eventually was rolled into a non-profit group. The book tells the story from the genesis of the idea, through the initial high of the ease with which they raised their first round of funding through Kickstarter and the interest from heavy hitters in Silicon Valley who were enthusiastic about the idea, to the mistakes they made in seeking the next round of funding requests and the internal strife that arose inside the group, to the final demise of the company. Along the way, the author explores the personalities behind it and shows the toll that the struggle took including the suicide of the most idealistic of the original four. While the narrative may ramble a bit, the background of the technical environment in which the idea was formed and evolved was very interesting. The first couple of chapters were especially interesting in regard to the privacy issues. Full Disclosure: I won an uncorrected proof of this book in a Goodreads FirstReads giveaway.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Blair Conrad

    Like many biographical works, compelling, in that I kept wanting to see what happened next. Dwyer did a good job of providing the men's background and the driving forces behind the Diaspora project. As a software developer myself (but for a large, established company) I enjoyed hearing about how the "startup" was formed, including getting the initial bolus of cash and the subsequent fundraising attempts. Of course, there's relatively little detail about _how_ the Diaspora software was built, but Like many biographical works, compelling, in that I kept wanting to see what happened next. Dwyer did a good job of providing the men's background and the driving forces behind the Diaspora project. As a software developer myself (but for a large, established company) I enjoyed hearing about how the "startup" was formed, including getting the initial bolus of cash and the subsequent fundraising attempts. Of course, there's relatively little detail about _how_ the Diaspora software was built, but that's just as well, as it would bore the "normals" to tears. I did find very few cringe-inducing passages when talking about programming or computers, so that's a point to Dwyer's credit. I did find some of the "colourful diversions" a little boring at first. In retrospect, they were there flesh out the men and give motivations for their involvement in the project and some of their actions. Still, they didn't grab me at first. Another quibble is that in a few places, it seemed like Dwyer was trying to hard with the vocabulary and writing style, jumping out of what was clear, straightforward prose into something a little more ornate and flowery. It wasn't a big deal, just slightly jarring when it happened. Overall, an enjoyable and educational book.

  21. 4 out of 5

    MC Wilder

    Disclosure: I received this as part of the Goodreads First Reads program. More Awesome Than Money is a fascinating piece of nonfiction involving four friends and their dream to protect people's privacy on the internet, starting with the creation of a social network that doesn't sell your information for profit. It appropriately reads like a 350 page New York Times article, if you're familiar with the style, and gives overly thorough backgrounds on every aspect of the story (main players, mentors, Disclosure: I received this as part of the Goodreads First Reads program. More Awesome Than Money is a fascinating piece of nonfiction involving four friends and their dream to protect people's privacy on the internet, starting with the creation of a social network that doesn't sell your information for profit. It appropriately reads like a 350 page New York Times article, if you're familiar with the style, and gives overly thorough backgrounds on every aspect of the story (main players, mentors, adjacent figures with interest in potential investment, any sort of technology, etc.). While I enjoyed the story itself, the constant focus on background information was intense, and it often felt like I was reading information that had already been introduced or that wasn't exactly necessary to include. It very well may be that the book went through another round of edits before actual publication (I received an advanced copy), so it could be that some of these instances have already been taken care of. That being said I would still recommend this book, but would likely reserve it for someone involved in a startup, a moderately tech savvy individual, or an avid reader of nonfiction. It was absolutely a worthwhile read.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Marjorie

    Given To Me For An Honest Review Jim Dwyer's book More Awesome Than Money: Four Boys and Their Heroic Quest to Save Your Privacy is truly a must read for all. This is about four NYU undergraduates who wanted to build a social network that would allow users to control their own personal data. It was called Disapora. Right after presenting this to different members of the digital community and others, they were able to raise $200,00. Then their progress of the development was being monitored. Max Given To Me For An Honest Review Jim Dwyer's book More Awesome Than Money: Four Boys and Their Heroic Quest to Save Your Privacy is truly a must read for all. This is about four NYU undergraduates who wanted to build a social network that would allow users to control their own personal data. It was called Disapora. Right after presenting this to different members of the digital community and others, they were able to raise $200,00. Then their progress of the development was being monitored. Max the CEO, Ilya, the idealist, Dan the Coder and Rafi kept everyone on track of what they were dong. Before long after the money ran out and some bad decision making, Dispora fell victim to those and other things. In November of 2011 Ilya committed suicide. What happened to the Disapora Four is still being talked about. It is included when talked about issues of the future of the internet. This book is a real page turner. Not my usual genre but I really liked reading it. I gave it 5 stars but it really deserves more. I highly recommend it to everyone. I look forward to more from Jim Dwyer.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Mystery

    I received this book as a Goodreads Giveaway! Yay!! For someone who is not fond of business, this book was written in a language that was easy to understand. Also as someone who has met and is friends with a lot of depressed people, Ilya really related. The book was not just a reminder about changing the world and making it a better place for future generations, but it was also a reminder of how aspects of a business can fail, how building a business in not an easy joke and always an easy success I received this book as a Goodreads Giveaway! Yay!! For someone who is not fond of business, this book was written in a language that was easy to understand. Also as someone who has met and is friends with a lot of depressed people, Ilya really related. The book was not just a reminder about changing the world and making it a better place for future generations, but it was also a reminder of how aspects of a business can fail, how building a business in not an easy joke and always an easy success, rather it can very easily become overwhelming, how a single decision could easily be a make or break deal and how just because you have worked with someone for over a year does not mean you know that person. The entire story from the spark of the idea to the present was very well written and covered several perspectives in an unbiased way. And then there's the best part about contemporary nonfiction, you can relate where you were when these events happened and wonder what your stance on the issue is and your ways of contribution for or against such present day issues as privacy. A must read for our generation!

  24. 5 out of 5

    Eric Henderson

    I got this book for free through the Goodreads First Reads program. I had a great time with this book. I know my way around a computer, but I'm not a huge tech person, and this is a story with lots of nuts and bolts sort of stuff, but it worked out great for me. The author is a journalist, so the explanations start from ground zero everywhere. I learned a lot about how computer stuff works, and about the history of the internet. Of course, this book is mostly a story about four smart friends who I got this book for free through the Goodreads First Reads program. I had a great time with this book. I know my way around a computer, but I'm not a huge tech person, and this is a story with lots of nuts and bolts sort of stuff, but it worked out great for me. The author is a journalist, so the explanations start from ground zero everywhere. I learned a lot about how computer stuff works, and about the history of the internet. Of course, this book is mostly a story about four smart friends who won the Kickstarter lottery, and how each of them dealt with the accompanying pressure over the next couple of years, struggling to get their product together or get more money before the money runs out. One interesting theme is that a creative undertaking (for an individual or small group) is a race to finish before you lose sight of what it was that made you want to do it in the first place. No matter how important it is, even if you're working on it every day, there's only so far you can go before you lose focus. A worthwhile read - I really enjoyed it.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Marcy

    I received a free copy of this book through the GoodReads First Reads program. "More Awesome Than Money" follows the story of the kids who initiated the Diaspora* project in 2009/2010. It covers the development, both of the project and in the lives of those kids, through 2013ish. I did really enjoy reading this book once I got into it. It was an interesting perspective into a project where struggles seemed kind of rampant. When I have read other books about projects in the tech world, the projects I received a free copy of this book through the GoodReads First Reads program. "More Awesome Than Money" follows the story of the kids who initiated the Diaspora* project in 2009/2010. It covers the development, both of the project and in the lives of those kids, through 2013ish. I did really enjoy reading this book once I got into it. It was an interesting perspective into a project where struggles seemed kind of rampant. When I have read other books about projects in the tech world, the projects are ones we know are successful (Facebook, for example); this book about Diaspora* was interesting because it (at least as of now) still hasn't overtaken the social network scene, as seemed to be its promise when the Kickstarter was launched, and faced many challenges, some truly insurmountable. It's admirable that they stuck with their project as long as they did, and I would expect any of them to have success with other projects in the future.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Eric

    The title with subtitle, along with this secondary subtitle, "David versus Goliath in Silicon Valley—an epic attempt to take back the Internet" more or less tell us everything we need to know about thise one. The fourth star might be a touch generous, although I give a lot of credit to Jim Dwyer for sticking to telling the story without a lot of commentary. In the internet age, we users are the product, and that seems to be what we've all come to live with as "the norm." These guys set out to ch The title with subtitle, along with this secondary subtitle, "David versus Goliath in Silicon Valley—an epic attempt to take back the Internet" more or less tell us everything we need to know about thise one. The fourth star might be a touch generous, although I give a lot of credit to Jim Dwyer for sticking to telling the story without a lot of commentary. In the internet age, we users are the product, and that seems to be what we've all come to live with as "the norm." These guys set out to change that, and Dwyer follows along to show us what went on behind the scenes. As we continue (at least for now) to bargain away ever more of our privacy there are sure to be others with similar ideas - who knows; we could all rise up and join them, but likely won't. Somewhat sobering. I would love to engage someone who actually had experience with the Diaspora software, but am not sure I would have the wherewithal to actually use it.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Paul Davidson

    This book goes into great detail about effort and ideas required to get an internet start-up off the ground. The four idealistic and young founders are an interesting and passionate bunch, it is hard not too root for them amidst their struggles to conquer Silicon Valley. It was like a Grisham novel for the tech-inclined. I appreciated the author's attention to detail, simplifying computer jargon and trying to bring the reader into the challenge the guys faced. I was busily looking up more inform This book goes into great detail about effort and ideas required to get an internet start-up off the ground. The four idealistic and young founders are an interesting and passionate bunch, it is hard not too root for them amidst their struggles to conquer Silicon Valley. It was like a Grisham novel for the tech-inclined. I appreciated the author's attention to detail, simplifying computer jargon and trying to bring the reader into the challenge the guys faced. I was busily looking up more information online about their software and interviews while reading the story. Search for Ilya Spill on a popular video site to see the bike crash. I would recommend the book for anyone interested in technology. In the interests of full-disclosure I received an advance copy from the publisher.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Kim Hampton

    I won this book through a Goodreads giveaway. I really enjoyed the story, but there was a little too much technical jargon in parts of it that made it hard to get through. Not having a background in computer programming, I found those parts boring and hard to understand. The parts that talked about the actual lives and activities of the boys were very interesting to me though. I would have liked it better if the story focused more on the emotional aspects of them than on the details of how they I won this book through a Goodreads giveaway. I really enjoyed the story, but there was a little too much technical jargon in parts of it that made it hard to get through. Not having a background in computer programming, I found those parts boring and hard to understand. The parts that talked about the actual lives and activities of the boys were very interesting to me though. I would have liked it better if the story focused more on the emotional aspects of them than on the details of how they made the social network.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Scott Stewart

    This book was a Goodreads Giveaway and I would like to thank the publisher for gifting me a copy. I work in the IT sector, and I found this book extremely interesting. It delves deep into computer geek land and the author easily explained things so that the regular Joe could understand. This book will give readers an idea of what it is like to have an idea, and need to find funding for it (i.e. Kickstarter, IndieGogo). Some ideas take off and make millions, some die in their infancy. This is a gre This book was a Goodreads Giveaway and I would like to thank the publisher for gifting me a copy. I work in the IT sector, and I found this book extremely interesting. It delves deep into computer geek land and the author easily explained things so that the regular Joe could understand. This book will give readers an idea of what it is like to have an idea, and need to find funding for it (i.e. Kickstarter, IndieGogo). Some ideas take off and make millions, some die in their infancy. This is a great book. Thanks for the free copy!

  30. 4 out of 5

    Nicholas

    Goodreads win. Will read and review once received. I found this book to be quite intriguing. I will admit while reading this book I was having to go and look up some words that I hadn't a clue about. Which is always a plus when reading a book. The book did seem to go a little slow during about the first part of the book. I think this would be a great book for the people who are interested or do computer programming. It was interesting to read about the actual boys. I think it would have been real Goodreads win. Will read and review once received. I found this book to be quite intriguing. I will admit while reading this book I was having to go and look up some words that I hadn't a clue about. Which is always a plus when reading a book. The book did seem to go a little slow during about the first part of the book. I think this would be a great book for the people who are interested or do computer programming. It was interesting to read about the actual boys. I think it would have been really interesting to learn more of how they made the social network.

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