On 30 December Mark Zuckerberg posted

“I’m crowdsourcing ideas for my next year’s personal challenge. For background, every year I take on a challenge to broaden my perspective and learn something about the world beyond my work at Facebook. In past years, some of my challenges have been:

  • Learning to speak Mandarin
  • Meeting one new person who doesn’t work at Facebook every day
  • Writing a thank you note each day to someone who made the world better
  • Being a vegetarian (or only eating meat if I killed the animal myself)
  • Wearing a tie every day

At our last town hall Q&A, someone asked me what my challenge will be for the new year and I said I’d love ideas from our community. I have an idea of what my next challenge might be, but I’m open to more ideas before the new year officially begins. So share your ideas here!”

The winning suggestion this year appears to have been to start a Facebook book club, called A Year of Books. The first selection is Moises Naim: The End of Power. Zuckerberg apparently got 81,000 members in two days. Not that “being a member” implies anything like “wanting to read a book”. You become a member by liking the post or by asking to follow. The “likes” are over 250,000 now. Still, even if MZ doesn’t turn out to have the clout of Oprah, or Richard & Judy, some books will be sold. The paperback went out of stock at Amazon on the first day, though the book was still available in the Kindle edition. One of the advantages of the e-book is of course that it can (in theory) never go out of stock. The book appears now to be available once more. Maybe in future Mr Zuckerberg will share the upcoming choice with the publisher in time for restocking to take place.

Here are links to stories about the book club from GigaomTechCrunchThe New York Times, and The Atlantic.

I do wonder how wearing a tie enabled Mr Zuckerberg to learn anything about the world beyond his work at Facebook. I suppose it might be said to have broadened his perspective.

Later: Doesn’t seem to be going that well. This post from The Digital Reader suggests that there are structural problems in Facebook’s algorithms which render the sort of interchange you’d need for a book club difficult to achieve. I must say that having “signed up” myself I have not received any notification from the club (other than a post saying the next book is going to be Steven Pinker’s The Better Angels of our Nature, which I did read a while back). Of course I am willing to admit that this may be my own unfamiliarity with the ways of Facebook.

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