Review ‘Once You’re Lucky, Twice You’re Good’

On: September 15, 2008
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About Guido van Diepen
Guido van Diepen is a freelance journalist and cultural anthropologist specialized in new media. He did empirical research in Uganda on internet usage. He is interested in the effects of new media practices on culture, focusing on the idea that different cultures react differently to - and make different uses of - new media.


Once You’re Lucky, Twice You’re Good: The Rebirth of Silicon Valley and the Rise of Web 2.0 (Sarah Lacy)

Sarah Lacey, columnist for BusinessWeek, thoroughly describes the stories of young entrepreneurs who created groundbreaking new websites like Facebook and YouTube, giving an insiders view into the world of entrepreneurship in Silicon Valley. In the book she actually manages to describe the world of offices and conferences in a rather exciting way; Silicon Valley is depicted as if it were a war zone in which entrepreneurs rise and fall and millions are easily spent.

Since the collapse of the dot com wave, only ‘the guys’ that kept believing in the internet as an ongoing success, came to be as Lacey calls them ‘the last men standing’. These were the founders of the social networking sites like LinkedIn, Facebook, MySpace and so on, part of what is now known as Web 2.0. Lacey ascribes part of the success to the fact that the content in these sites is created by the users and that these sites are useful tools in maintaining friendships. Not particularly staggering statements for a web-based book written in 2008!

The style Lacey uses in her book is of informal character. One of the ‘last men standing’, Mark Zuckerberg, founder of social networking site Facebook, is pointed out in the book as ‘the Mark Zuckerberg phenomenon’. Remarkably enough she explicitly refers to this phenomenon as Zuck. Also the other entrepreneurs put down as heroes are named by their first names. Obviously she spends a lot of time with these celebrated entrepreneurs, or say celebrities, according to the admiring way she describes them in detail.

She not only has a flirty way of writing, she is constantly flirting with the protagonists, which gives an unprofessional and rather voyeuristic image of the author. We are being informed of the length of the men’s two-day beards, in what kind of ways we could tell ‘Zuck’ was nervous for a presentation, the nonchalant way he wears his Northface-fleece, and about how he ordered guacamole in a bar, but got fried appetizers instead. Very interesting indeed! She drags the reader unwillingly along in her fascination for the young winners. Presenting detailed pictures of the protagonists may be amusing, but in this case it is taken too far.

In short, Lacey gives an descriptive outline of entrepreneurship in Silicon Valley, but by her fetishist-like way of observing and describing the events, the book reads more like a soap opera.

It’s too bad Sarah Lacey didn’t include the Zuckerberg keynote interview on 9th of March 2008 in her book. She could have written a very detailed and entertaining picture of the embarrassing performance of ‘Zuck’s’ interviewer at that moment, ‘Sarah’..

Sarah Lacey interviews Zuckerberg

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