Zuckerberg on 'The Social Network'
Mark Zuckerberg's response to "The Social Network" is quite perfect, and gets at some broader problems in both the fictional and the factual media:
As he says, it's really peculiar that the movie was obsessive about accurately portraying his T-shirts but unconcerned with recasting his motivations as a spurned geek's efforts to strike back at the girl who wronged him. The idea that he just wanted to build "something cool" -- that he'd been building cool things since before he came to college, and meant to continue building them after he left -- doesn't make for a good movie.
Both fictional and factual reportage have a bias towards human relationships and failings as the driver of professional achievements. In part, that just makes for better stories. The psychology of a president -- his complicated bond with his mother, or father, or wife -- is more interesting than a story of sweat, talent and interest being joined by luck. The personal conflicts between legislators make for a better story than "yes, they wanted to do this, but no, they didn't have the votes, and couldn't have gotten them." And particularly in political reporting, tracking donations or reading polls -- a story, in other words, of personal corruption or opportunism -- is a preferred explanation for a politician's behavior than the idea that he or she simply thought this or that problem worth solving.
So Zuckerberg is wrong on one point: It's not just Silicon Valley that gets that treatment.
| October 20, 2010; 9:33 AM ET
Categories: Journalism, Tech
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