Mark built it. There’s no compelling argument to dispute such fact. He’s the typical IT guy with the peculiarity of possessing a valuable asset that places him above many: he’s a passionate visionary.
The difference between configuring a brilliant idea and developing it into an extraordinary success rests in the capability to follow through; in the ability not only to think brilliantly, but to execute, realize, materialize such conception in a tangible, real achievement. That is what makes of an ordinary individual, an extraordinary human being. Mark is one of those.
Thefacebook story is about the creation of a social space for a bunch of youths that interact at the Harvard campus, about the architect of a virtual network launched for the enjoyment of people that he knew in real life and dealt with in a daily basis. That was the starting point of a project that evolved into a revolutionary communication tool and in making of Mark Zuckerberg, the youngest billionaire in the world.
Mark, the perfect ‘nerd’ by definition, worked every minute beyond his classroom schedule to assure his networking experiment kept running and advancing toward the direction he wasn’t sure had yet a specific goal, but certainly knew it would be a great one.
Glorifying Mark? Perhaps. Was he surrounded by other geeks who also contributed to the great project? Indeed. But, see, all of these kids were taught the same sciences and theories in the classroom, all of them had the same opportunity to brainstorm, grasp, develop and embrace an idea, but it was Mark who made it happen. He has the talent and the drive and didn’t rest until it was a real concept, a plan in constant making.
Born in October 28, 2003 as Facemash1, and after Mark’s hacking activity into Harvard’s servers that almost cost him to be expelled, the experiment evolved in February of 2004 into Thefacebook, expanded to Stanford, Columbia, and Yale, and in 2005 dropped “The” from its name, giving birth to what we know now as Facebook.
The website popularity transcended University campuses and six years later it has more than 500,000,000 users. Facebook is unarguably the fastest growing network in the history of the internet and of course, in the history of man.
The story over a project that started in a Harvard’s dorm room in 2004, and became a worldwide communication phenomenon, made it to the script of Aaron Sorkin (Sports Night, The West Wing) in 2009. The Social Network, directed by David Fincher (Seven, The Game, Fight Club, Panic Room, Zodiac and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button) was released Oct. 1st of 2010 making more than 23 million on its opening weekend.
But detractors of the film have referred to it as fiction, while some Harvard scholars have said that its dialogues are far from the language that real students use at campuses.
In watching the film, and beyond its accuracy or level of fidelity to the truth, we found it to be an intelligent, very well told story: visually, rhythmically, and dramatically. It also incorporates some comedy sparks, as daily life would. The storyline resorts to intermittent flashbacks that keep the audience intensely connected to the story.
Despite the controversy, the screenplay is not built in only one version of the tale. It does show three conflicting stories that come together in a thrilling saga based on notes allegedly taken at a real-life deposition room were all the real-life individuals involved in the case were present.
Two lawsuits against Mark Zuckerberg are the central axis of The Social Network. One was filed by the Winklevoss twins – Cameron and Tyler- who argued they had hired Mark to build Harvard’s social network while he instead used their ideas to create a competing product. The second one was brought by Eduardo Saverin, Mark’s supposedly “only friend” and Facebook’s first CFO, who was pushed out of the corporation by Silicon Valley investors.
It is possible that Mark breached his contract with the Winklevoss twins, but for they to say that “our idea was stolen!” well, that’s a different story and then the question in that sense would be if there was any substantial legal claim. Let’s not forget that when the Winklevoss came into his life, he had been working on the Facemash project -which was the platform that later evolved into Thefacebook site-.
Mark Zuckerberg did not steal a trade secret, or any other intellectual property. The code for Facebook was created by not other than Mark Zuckerberg himself and the concept of a “social network” already existed when Mark Zuckerberg came up with the concept of Facemash and Thefacebook.
The $65 million given to the twins were not granted in honor to justice, but due to a flawed system that works ideally trough settlements.
Saverin’s case is more sensitive not only because the friendship he once held with Zuckerberg, but because the way it unfolded in the hands of what appear to be unethical practices of unscrupulous lawyers hired after Silicon Valley investors came into the picture. Saverin also settled for an undisclosed amount.
But, if there is something to criticize about The Social Network, is that it omitted the real marvel behind the Facebook story. American entrepreneurism and innovation is just that, not news, it comes recurrently, cyclically. Mark is irreverent, intrepid, a hacker, a genius. Indeed. But, the real core of the tale is how with less than $1,000 and utilizing an existing platform (the internet) a revolutionary seed was planted in the cyber-world evolving in what we know as Facebook and reaching half-a-billion users within six years of first being launched.
That is, half-a-billion people connected for entertainment, friendship, dating, relationships, networking, business opportunities, etc., etc. And since a good way to understand culture is through film, it’s a shame that this movie doesn’t emphasize more in the aspect of Facebook as the most important social and economic platform for innovation in our contemporary history.
Facebook is also the best proof that other ‘geniuses’ can develop their own internet innovations and contribute their very best to make the World Wide Web better as a product, as an experience.
The possibility that future Zuckerbergs could continue to exercise their freedom to create, innovate and revolution cyber communications is a democratic principle in itself, and is something to celebrate.
© 2010 Aurelia Fierros — All Rights Reserved.
1. Facemash, according to Wikipedia:
“The site represented a Harvard University version of Hot or Not, according to the Harvard Crimson. According to The Harvard Crimson, Facemash used photos compiled from the online facebooks of nine Houses, placing two next to each other at a time and asking users to choose the ‘hotter’ person […] Zuckerberg hacked into the protected areas of Harvard’s computer network and copied the houses’ private dormitory ID images. Harvard at that time did not have a student directory with photos, and basic information and the initial site generated 450 visitors and 22,000 photo-views in its first four hours online.”