Facebook employee blocked from publishing book called 'Social Circles'

You may have never heard the name Paul Adams, but if you are one of the lucky ones who have been using Google+ over the last few weeks, you have definitely seen his work. Adams is a former employee at Google who developed the concept of 'Circles' and now works at rival Facebook. Circles is a method of organizing your social network contacts into groups based on whatever categorization you feel is appropriate. You can restrict posts to only be shared with specific circles and not viewed by others. In June 2010, Adams was given permission by Google to publish a book detailing this idea called "Social Circles." Every aspect of the book was approved before Google+ (at the time called Project Emerald) even existed. However, in July 2010 Project Emerald was leaked and Google halted the books publishing and rescinded publishing rights until Google+ launched. Now, weeks after the launch of the new social network, Google will not respond to Adams's emails asking for permission to publish the book. Adams doesn't believe they have the right.

"The book contains no proprietary information, it is based almost entirely on research from 3rd parties (mostly universities) and any Google research referenced is already in the public domain."

Adams currently works at Facebook as a project manager and previously (with permission from Google) released a 224 slide presentation on social networking. He has a second book called "Grouped" that will be out in a few months.

​Image credit: Paul Adams

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26 Comments

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er sounds like google stole his ideas whilst he worked for them to create google+ and are now p!ssy because they don't want to share with the world at large

this concept of circles sounds interesting.. this is what g+ is based off of? i think people are going to like it, and FB is going to need to change fast to stay relevant

This is what the guy says on the linked blog post:
"I wrote the book in collaboration with Google, and in June 2010 they officially gave me written permission to publish it."

"in collaboration with Google" makes it sound like google does have a say on the publishing of the book

Siddharth Prabhu said,
Why is he referred to as Allen in the second half of the article?

Yeah, was wondering that... "Adams" used three times, "Allen" used four times.

thommcg said,

Yeah, was wondering that... "Adams" used three times, "Allen" used four times.

Thanks for pointing this out. My mind kept wanting to type Paul Allen. i guess I should stop watching American Psycho and Pirates of Silicon Valley. If you use the report function, the staff can correct these mistakes more quickly.


Circles is a method of organizing your social network contacts into groups based on whatever categorization you feel is appropriate. You can restrict posts to only be shared with specific circles and not viewed by others.

Note that this is not a revolutionary new feature from Google+, Facebook offers similar methods form selective sharing, only its called lists instead of circles, and isn't greatly advertised.

Mippie said,

Note that this is not a revolutionary new feature from Google+, Facebook offers similar methods form selective sharing, only its called lists instead of circles, and isn't greatly advertised.

When I write something on Facebook, the lists are not an option, I only got stuff like "Friends", "Friends of friends" etc.

Lamp Post said,
When I write something on Facebook, the lists are not an option, I only got stuff like "Friends", "Friends of friends" etc.

You can make your own list by going to Friend->Manage Friends->New List. You can do quite a lot with it, but admittedly it doesn't have the flexibility and easy-of-use of Circles.

Lamp Post said,
When I write something on Facebook, the lists are not an option, I only got stuff like "Friends", "Friends of friends" etc.

Friend->Manage Friends->New List, then in the privacy options where you hit "Customize" instead of a single contact (that, for example, you don't want to see your wall posts), you can add the list. Same goes when posting on your wall, you can hide or make the post visible from/to a list.

BS
Everyone can publish a book without the consent of Google. And if he is not able (for example if he is still under a NDA) then he can do using a alias, a company name, a fake name (alias) and several other ways.

IMHO: He is trying to gain free publicity, trying to show as "the poor writer that is abused by the evil Google".

Magallanes said,
BS
Everyone can publish a book without the consent of Google. And if he is not able (for example if he is still under a NDA) then he can do using a alias, a company name, a fake name (alias) and several other ways.

IMHO: He is trying to gain free publicity, trying to show as "the poor writer that is abused by the evil Google".

Except there are silly little things like employment contracts and threat of legal action. Sure he can publish, assuming the publisher will take the risk, but if Google said 'no' previously, they had some legal 'right' to do so, thus making this an extreme risk for the author and the publisher. Defending legal cases is not something most individuals can bankroll.

On the other hand, the only way to get Google's attention is to bring light to this issue and either shame them into letting the work be published or force them to give reason.

Google may have started with a few guys sucking technology from a few search companies in the 90s, which is a bit nefarious at best, and even if they intended on 'do no evil' this is no longer the company's basis of operation.

As for your 'theories' of how he could release the book, if Google was already aware of it, using a pen name and a new title would not fool them, which is a bit myopic if you truly believe teenage 'tricks' would slip past Google's attention.

Do you really think it would be this easy? Curious about your 'several other ways', as my business and legal background can't figure one out, so I don't see it as being 'obvious'.

Magallanes said,
BS
Everyone can publish a book without the consent of Google. And if he is not able (for example if he is still under a NDA) then he can do using a alias, a company name, a fake name (alias) and several other ways.

IMHO: He is trying to gain free publicity, trying to show as "the poor writer that is abused by the evil Google".

That's not accurate. Anything I create that has to do with the company I work for right now is owned by the company, not by myself. I have to get permission from the company to do anything with it. I'm sure he was part of a similar employment contract. If you try one of your tricks, you can still get litigated into oblivion.

spenser.d said,

That's not accurate. Anything I create that has to do with the company I work for right now is owned by the company, not by myself. I have to get permission from the company to do anything with it. I'm sure he was part of a similar employment contract. If you try one of your tricks, you can still get litigated into oblivion.


How is this relevant?
When he worked at google, they didn't develop Google+. So the book doesn't belong to Google.

Or maybe you think that Google's search engine belongs to the owner of some place where Larry Page worked while being a student?

spenser.d said,

That's not accurate. Anything I create that has to do with the company I work for right now is owned by the company, not by myself. I have to get permission from the company to do anything with it. I'm sure he was part of a similar employment contract. If you try one of your tricks, you can still get litigated into oblivion.

i didn't published any book, my wife did it, or some unknown guy did it.

Pen name is nothing new, for example (from wikipedia) "Stephen King published four novels under the name Richard Bachman because publishers didn't feel the public would buy more than one novel per year from a single author.[1] "


RealFduch said,

How is this relevant?
When he worked at google, they didn't develop Google+. So the book doesn't belong to Google.

Or maybe you think that Google's search engine belongs to the owner of some place where Larry Page worked while being a student?

The book, according to him, was written "in collaboration with google", not just by himself, I presume.

Magallanes said,

i didn't published any book, my wife did it, or some unknown guy did it.

Pen name is nothing new, for example (from wikipedia) "Stephen King published four novels under the name Richard Bachman because publishers didn't feel the public would buy more than one novel per year from a single author.[1] "


Um, ya we all get pen names and how they have been used.

You still don't get why this is and sounds so crazy.

If I show you the post I wrote above, and then changed the name on the post 10 days later, do you really think you would not know that it was still me that created the post?

Google has seen and knows of the book. No matter what name or color or pen name is used, they will know who wrote it, cause they already know who wrote it, and what they wrote. Get it yet?

Seriously?

RealFduch said,

How is this relevant?
When he worked at google, they didn't develop Google+. So the book doesn't belong to Google.

As I read it, Google+ existed at that time under the code name emerald, so it was already in development. It just didn't had the name "Google+" back then.