Facebook Founder “Likes” Prof. Chwe’s Early Work

UCLA Prof. Michael Chwe is somewhat accustomed to getting a “thumbs up” for his research from people outside the mainstream of political science, and has also been known to give a nod across disciplines — such as in his most recent book suggesting that early 19th-century novelist Jane Austen was a game theorist. But this month, it was a book he published in 2001 — years before Facebook was a gleam in Mark Zuckerberg’s eye — that sent readers looking and “liking.”  Social media pioneer Zuckerberg recently selected Prof. Chwe’s “Rational Ritual: Culture, Coordination, and Common Knowledge” (Princeton Univ. Press, 2001) as the seventh book on his “read-and-discuss online” list for a special “Year of Books” project throughout 2015.

Zuckerberg called attention to Prof. Chwe’s “important idea” surrounding the concept that “people process the world not only based on what we personally know, but what we know other people know and our shared knowledge….”   Calling back, Prof. Chwe (in a column in last week’s Harvard Business Review), compared Facebook’s phenomenal growth to that of the product “Listerine” in the 1920s, but with at least one important difference.

To read Prof. Chwe’s response (of sorts) comparing Facebook with the mouthwash, click here.

To see which other books Zuckerberg has selected so far during this “Year of Books” and read Prof. Chwe’s online Q&A, visit Facebook, here.