Sunday, October 10, 2010

Sunday Reading: A Network of Social Network Posts

If Rotten Tomatoes is to be taken for the quality aggregator it claims to be, The Social Network is a big deal.  Fincher and Sorkin’s piece of biofiction about Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg warrants your attention simply because it deals with the men behind a website that probably receives your attention multiple times a day.  Below please find some reading to flesh out your movie-going experience.

On the off chance you haven’t yet, check out Jordan’s review.  He doesn’t doubt the film’s quality, but what interests him more are the questions raised by its treatment of Zuckerberg:

“Has Facebook's founder remade the world in his own image? Mark Zuckerberg's villainy, at least as interpreted by Eisenberg, stems from his autistic inability to deal with those around him. The jury's still out on whether that makes him a sociopath or just a good business man.”

Those looking for a less-than-glowing appraisal of the film should read Nathan Heller’s deconstruction of The Social Network’s version of Harvard over on Slate.  What does Heller know about Harvard?  He attended the Ivy concurrently with Zuck.  (Sidenote: Slate’s movie critic Dana Stevens liked it a lot, and she also took the time to round-up some of the accusations of sexism levied at the movie’s creators.)

Moving further away from the film itself is Peter Kirwan’s examination of “nudging” on Wired Epicenter blog.  Nudging is “the art of influencing user behavior by presenting options in specific ways.”  When a website randomly asks you to login to Facebook to view content, that’s a form of nudging, as are the various ways Facebook words choices in its settings.  It’s led to a lot of anti-Zuckerberg backlash – specifically the brouhahas over Facebook’s various privacy changes.  Kirwan wonders if Zuckerberg will ever be able to dig his company out of these PR ditches, especially with the The Social Network looming on big screens around the country.

Last but not least, The New Yorker ran a 6000-word profile on Zuckerberg a few weeks back, obviously timed to the movie’s impending release.  Fun fact: Zuckerberg and I share Ender’s Game as our favorite book.  I wonder if he hates the Bean books as much as I do.