Skip to main content

The Social Network

I saw The Social Network last weekend. It's entertaining. If you want to see an entertaining movie - go see it. I won't give away any spoilers in this post.

The movie is a drama. It's a work of art. But it's supposed to be about a true story - the founding of Facebook. So I'm really uneasy about the idea that accuracy can take a back seat, so long as the film is a well-written piece of art.

(from deneyterrio on Flickr)

I've now read two stories about Facebook and seen one film. The first, Ben Mezrich's book The Accidental Billionaires, is admittedly an entertaining read; but not without issues. The main issue is that Ben Mezrich is unfortunately known for writing questionably accurate depictions of events in order to create page-turning books. But at the end of the day, I wasn't there and I can't judge whether Mezrich is being fair to reality. The bigger issue with Mezrich's book is that it uses Eduardo Saverin as its primary source. And anyone who's read The Accidental Billionaires or seen The Social Network knows that Saverin has pretty significant motive to tell a story that's not favorable of Mark Zuckerberg.

Now we have the movie version of a questionably accurate book. It's written by Aaron Sorkin, a screenwriter who's freely admitted that he barely understands Facebook or the social web.

Lastly, we have Jose Antonio Vargas's profile of Mark Zuckerberg in the New Yorker. It's a great profile, and it's a piece that leaves you scratching your head, because many of the things we learn about Mark Zuckerberg in the article are things that aren't portrayed at all in the book or the film. At the end of the day, Vargas actually sat down with Zuckerberg; Mezrich and Sorkin didn't.

When Aaron Sorkin wrote The West Wing, he wrote it about a fictional administration. What if the main charter instead was Bill Clinton or George Bush? The show made for good drama without presenting itself as reality. That's what makes The Social Network different. There are plenty of people who will walk out of theaters accepting, on-face, that what they just saw is exactly what happened.

Comments

Jeff said…
I think the truth is somewhere in between. Saverin has a story to tell, so you can't just take that at face value, especially once Mezrich touches it. But Vargas probably had to give some assurances that he wouldn't take the gloves off to get that interview. You'll notice that Vargas uses the term "sophomoric" to describe activity that is potentially an illegal breach of privacy laws. But maybe I'm also just biased because my understanding of the story comes from the people who ultimately settled with Facebook for the theft of their idea.
In the end though, your conclusion is probably the correct one. It will be a shame when many people leave the movie theater and take this story as a factual retelling of history. The founding a Facebook is a fascinating story, to be sure, but that doesn't mean this movie is telling it accurately.

Popular posts from this blog

In Praise of Southwest's 'C' Boarding Group

A few weeks ago I saw a tweet from someone complaining that their Southwest Airlines boarding pass had been assigned A20 (meaning they would be at least one of the first twenty passengers to board the plane). Apparently this person though they should have been assigned a higher number, less their flight experience be considerably spoiled.

Despite the complaints, Southwest has resisted demands to assign seats on its flights, a decision which I personally applaud. I'll admit that I was skeptical when they rolled out the newest boarding procedure, assigning both boarding groups and a line number; but in hindsight it seems like one of the best operational decisions they've ever made. If nothing else, it effectively eliminated the infamous "cattle call" whereby fliers were getting to airports hours in advance and sitting in line on the floor as if they were waiting for the midnight showing of the new Star Wars movie.

When I was an intern at Southwest Airlines last winter, I…

So You Want to be a Southwest Airlines Intern?

My personal website must have pretty decent SEO - because in the past year, I've received about two dozen emails from aspiring Southwest Airlines interns looking to draw on my experience in search of their own dream internship. In the past two weeks alone a few new emails have already started rolling in...

(from flickr user San Diego Shooter)

If you've found your way here, you might be hoping for the silver bullet; a secret tip that will propel you above the competition. Unfortunately, I do not know any inside secrets. I can only share my experience as an internship candidate about two years ago and, rather than responding individually to future emails I anticipate to receive, I hope that potential interns will find the information posted here valuable.

Understand: Southwest Airlines is a very unique company. The corporate culture at Southwest is truly unlike that of nearly every other company. But you probably already knew that, since it now seems mandatory for every management,…

Good Advertising

The blogosphere seems to be one fire over Microsoft's new "Lauren" TV commercial. Frankly, I don't see what the commotion is about.



If the critics are correct, then "Lauren" is actually Lauren De Long, a Screen Actors Guild eligible actress; and apparently, if you look close enough, she never even enters the Apple store.

Even if all of that is true, it doesn't refute the fact that Apple's laptops are significantly more expensive than most PCs. It isn't a lie that Apple doesn't sell any 17-inch laptops for less than a grand. The advertisement doesn't make any reference to the quality of the machines (or contest any of the claims made in Apple's "I'm a PC" commercials) or provide any good reason to buy one other than price.

As far as I can tell, after years of horrible commercials and a series of flops, Microsoft seems to finally have hired an ad agency that put together a decent advertisement. It's not likely to persuad…