My hope is that by reading this book, you’ll have a more rounded view of the seismic shift currently happening in front of our eyes, and a more nuanced idea of what that means for all of us. But more than that, I hope you’ll pay attention to the app you may think is all about teenagers dancing and see it for what it is: a key driver of society, and an angur of the tech future to come.Conclusion, Page 261
In a nutshell
Chris Stokel-Walker was properly introduced to Tiktok at a 2019 Vidcon conference in London, when a friend suggested he stay for a panel on a short-form video app. Since that day he has spent countless hours researching Tiktok including 120 interviews, many with current and former Tiktok and Bytedance employees. Tiktok Boom uncovers the origin story of the app, what fueled its growth (buyouts not overnight virality) and the concerns governments around the world have raised about privacy. Woven into the story of the app is the story of some of the biggest creators on the app.
Book Club Notes
This book had my attention from the start, but like those graphs that show you audience retention rate during a video, that attention peaked and then dripped off the closer I got to the end. At first it reminded me of More Awesome Than Money, a book about four boys who spent three years trying to take on Facebook. But as the story went on, that comparison faded. It wasn’t just because the Tiktok story is one about success not failure, but rather that the Tiktok story has no altruistic idealistic angle. It has no heart.
Despite that I found it a well-researched and interesting look into the app that has launched countless teeny boppers to stardom. Among the things it confirmed was that there isn’t a magic recipe to virality and that while we may see Tiktok as an overnight success, what launched it was a series of buyouts and failures that led to the success the app is today. He also concluded that there is no evidence that this app is part of the Chinese Government’s plan to infiltrate Western democracy. A month ago, when I read that I believed it – but seeing what has happened on the app in the past month – the hate, the misinformation and the vitriol being thrown at Jewish creators – it’s hard to just believe that the algorithm isn’t pushing certain content while blocking others. How else does content praising Osama Bin Laden as a freedom fighter go viral and content posted by Jewish creators about Judaism get banned?
You’re a social media manager, love Tiktok or want to understand the app on everyone’s tongue.
Writing – 7/10
Applicability – 6/10
Timelessness – 2/10
Shareability – 7/10
The Nitty Gritty
A note on our book ratings
Readability: How easy is it to read and understand what the author is saying? Do you need a dictionary or PhD to understand it?
Writing: How well written is the book? Do you find yourself wowed by the writing or unimpressed?
Applicability: How applicable is this book to daily life? Is there enough advice and actions that are easy to start applying?
Timelessness: Is the content of the book timeless or is it something that in a few years won’t have relevance?
Shareability: How likely are you to share the book?