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ACM Opinion

Sorkin vs. Zuckerberg


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Social Network

Jesse Eisenberg as Mark Zuckerberg

The New Republic

In 2004, a Harvard undergraduate got an idea (yes, that is ambiguous) for a new kind of social network. Here’s the important point: He built it. He had a bunch of extremely clever clues for opening up a social space that every kid (anyone younger than I am) would love. He architected that social space around the social life of the kids he knew. And he worked ferociously hard to make sure the system was stable and functioning at all times. The undergraduate then spread it to other schools, then other communities, and now to anyone. Today, with more than 500,000,000 users, it is one of the fastest growing networks in the history of man. That undergraduate is now a billionaire, multiple times over. He is the youngest billionaire in the world.

In 2009, Aaron Sorkin ("Sports Night," "The West Wing") got (yes, the same word) the idea to write a script for a movie about this new social network. Here’s the important point: He made it. As with every one of his extraordinary works, Sorkin crafted dialogue for an as-yet-not-evolved species of humans—ordinary people, here students, who talk perpetually with the wit and brilliance of George Bernard Shaw or Bertrand Russell. (I’m a Harvard professor. Trust me: The students don’t speak this language.) With that script, and with a massive hand from the film’s director, David Fincher, he helped steer an intelligent, beautiful, and compelling film through to completion. You will see this movie, and you should. As a film, visually and rhythmically, and as a story, dramatically, the work earns its place in the history of the field.

But as a story about Facebook, it is deeply, deeply flawed...

From The New Republic
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