Facebook, like many Silicon Valley giants, has a mythology that’s used to indoctrinate workers. To help spread this ancestral origin story, Facebook enlisted its in-house print shop to publish a book of cultish aphorisms to guide inductees towards the light.
Several photographs of the book are published on the portfolio website of Ben Berry. Berry is a designer who used to run Facebook’s Analog Research Laboratory, a hip studio that hopes to encourage some non-digital thinking at the world’s most powerful social media company. According to Berry’s writeup:
As the company of Facebook grew, we faced a lot of challenges. One of them was explaining our company’s mission, history, and culture to new employees. Over the years, a lot of formative company discussions and debates had happened in Facebook Groups, over email, or in person. Those who had been present at the time had context, but for new employees that information was difficult to find, even if you knew what you were looking for. We wanted to try to package a lot of those stories and ideas in one place to give to all employees.
The Little Red Book takes its name from the nickname of a tract of quotations by Chinese communist dictator Mao Zedong. That pamphlet used to be carried around and quoted by party members. Now it’s a cutesy title for a tech company’s Welcome Aboard manual.
The teachings of Mark Zukerberg range from hollow to insightful. And though the book’s concept has the tinge of delusional self-importance, a lot of it rings true. You’re right Facebook, I don’t like you and your horrible privacy policies, but I use you because all my friends are on Facebook and I like them.
Like other design-forward manuals we’ve seen before, Facebook’s Little Red Book is beautiful. It’s hand-bound and artisanal, so it’s the kind of thing you keep on the shelf right next to your desk at all times. It’s meant to be a cherished memento that welcomes new employees to the group, and reminds them that goshdarnit, we’re making the world more open and connected, how cool is that?