Wednesday, January 05, 2011

"The Social Network" just made me admire Mark Zuckerberg

Advertising = Web Education = fun?
I ignored my to-do list today and enjoyed the luxury of focusing my whole work day on designing a web page and e-mail for Bernie's 2012 India tour. I love looking at the final version and tweaking and looking and tweaking. My strategy is to develop content that is tied to registration for a specific event, but also inherently interesting (both to me and readers). Thus, I plan to launch a virtual pilgrimage to India. This is where the old social studies educator in me comes forward.

I feel a tension between perfectionism and the drive to get more things done quicker. For example, I would like to start working on the budget management. I feel like this is an important skill that will help me be able to make the type of contribution I want to make in the future. After stepping away from my comic book for several months, my newly web-design-trained eye realized that I could say more in my comic with less words.

Is Facebook evil?
Even though Social Network portrayed him as a socially inept jerk, I left the movie with a growing admiration for Mark Zuckerberg. I felt defensive about the movie's anti-geek agenda and wasn't surprised to learn that writer Aaron Sorkin is not on Facebook. That is fine, except for that about half of Americans are on Facebook, so it is no geeky minority. I've felt a tension lately, on the one hand inspired by Silicon Valley capitalism and on the other hand, skeptical.

I think designing web content is fun and it has allowed me to reach thousands of people cheaply with messages that I think make the world a better place. I visited Silicon Valley for the Wisdom 2.0 conference last year and I've been listening to podcasts from the Valley as part of my business self-education (ever since my organization faced layoffs and pending loss of our property, my home, because we couldn't pay the bills, I've been much more attentive to money matter.) I admire the fact that these are folks doing what they love, influencing millions and being successful. I was pleased to see Zuckerberg join Bill Gates in pledging to donate half of his wealth to charity.

But, as I experienced at the Wisdom 2.0 conference last year, I am troubled by what seems to be a superficial embrace of social enterprise. I'm not convinced they are doing a thoroughgoing analysis of the effects of the cycle of production and consumption on every level. I just can't quite buy into the "invisible hand" dream that if I just do what's most profitable for me, it'll actually be more profitable for everyone.