I Saw The Social Network

Last night Lauren and I took a break from working and music to catch The Social Network. For those that don’t know, the movie is the story of Mark Zuckerberg and how Facebook got started. Going into the movie, I wasn’t really thinking I’d like it. I’m not really a fan of Facebook or Mark Zuckerberg. In the grand scheme of things, Facebook doesn’t feel like Google or Microsoft or Apple. On a technical level, it doesn’t seem as though it is really improving the world via technology as much as it is an addictive website that allows people a place for their online identities. Me, I have a real website, so social networks fail to provide a place to call home. That is simply my own perspective.

Even though my attitude could have been better, it wasn’t too bad a movie. In the previews I saw, the image of “rockstar” programmer was laid on pretty thick, complete with the wild nights, drugs, alcohol and promiscuous women. Fortunately, this wasn’t nearly as prevalent as I expected. There was definitely a bit of a college lifestyle represented but it was somewhat believable. The one standout situation that was truly ridiculous was the drunken hacker internship where college students were forced to take shots while trying to break into a “python” web server. It might have happened, but that one seemed really far fetched. Again, my attitude was somewhat lacking in that I don’t see Facebook as some powerhouse of technical innovation. It is a completely irrational opinion, but being honest, it still exists. While they tried to make Zuckerberg into something of a genius, at best, he came off as being relatively bright with a bent on ambition and capitalizing on opportunities. Overall, it was a pretty decent movie and I most importantly, I had a good time, so that is that.

Our drummer thought I would have really like it though because it seems like a “geek” movie. The fact is Facebook just isn’t very interesting from a “geek” perspective. There are those that are interested in its social graph, but that just doesn’t seem that interesting because it still is in the walled garden of Facebook. In my mind Facebook and the social aspects that have been seen as revolutionary never seem that poignant. Social networks have continued to be very similar in that they consistently give people a place online to point others at that they can easily publish to and gather an audience. All the photos, videos, witty comments, etc. all are just people publishing. Some have purpose while others don’t. I’m not saying this is a bad thing or suggesting it is negative. Lauren always says I’m extremely active on Facebook when I probably visit it once a month, if that. The fact is I use facebook to publish just like anyone else. But when the next “social” publishing platform comes around, I’ll do the same thing and update it with whatever it is I’m trying to publish. And that is the point, something else will come along.

I’m really not trying to be a downer here. I know tons of people love Facebook and just can’t enough of the communication that goes on there. My “geek” perspective is that I’m just not that impressed or excited about it. Personal publishing online has been something I’ve done for a long time, so the opportunity that Facebook offers just isn’t that compelling. That doesn’t mean Facebook isn’t a powerful medium for others to publish online. In fact, I’d argue that what does make Facebook compelling is that it raises the expectations of what non-programmer citizens of the web expect. It is good that people have talked about privacy and the problems of using many social networks. It is because at some point, I’d hope people will want to have not just an account, but a real domain they truly own. Facebook is just one step towards that, just like Blogger, Wordpress, MySpace, Posterous, Twitter, etc....