Weeksworthy, November 25th 2017
The Atlantic Monthly — on a Saturday, not much competes with a newspaper on paper, but given how expensive it is to have The New York Times delivered to my door, and four days late, I settle for the next best: Online magazines, NYT and other reads; stuff that´s been piling up in the past week. And this week, for sure, the Atlantic Magazine story about The Education of Mark Zuckerberg tops that list:
Anyone who reads on technology and innovation online, or whoever saw the movie The Social Network, will know how Mark Zuckerberg came from upper middle class abundance, went to Harvard, skipped Harvard before completing, and then into big time money in Silicon Valley. So what sense of “community” drives his understanding of Facebook and community building in the world, now and in the future?
As the story goes, the Atlantic magazine team used a University of Wisconsin’s database of Zuckerberg’s appearances and posts since 2005 where he had uttered the word “community” in public. 150 cases makes up the body of the article and analysis: .
He’s [Zuckerberg] taking this as seriously as a CEO can. He even changed the company’s mission statement in June 2017. Facebook’s purpose is now “to give people the power to build community, to bring the world closer together.” Time and again, he’s said there is now a “road map” to guide the creation of new tools for a new Facebook. And if I’ve learned one thing following this company for 13 years, it is never (never ever) underestimate Facebook’s ability to engage human beings and rewire their connections with each other. Zuckerberg will build what he sees as community.
But what will that actually mean? We have to return to the company’s origins, because the new Facebook will be rebuilt inside the carcass of the old, and they will share blood.
In much of the international discussion of the meteoric rise of Zuckerberg and Facebook, FB is perceived as the problem – a disrupting invention capable of toppling knowledge industries and governments; also potentially capable of re-writing the rules and conventions of public sphere debate. Yet, for Zuckerberg, as the article argues, the problem seems to be the opposite: Coming to an understanding of how globalization unravels community, the answer is more Facebook, not less.
Then, quite abruptly in the public record, Zuckerberg’s language changes completely. It began with the company review of its performance for analysts in January 2016. “Even as the world has tended toward greater openness over time, in many communities we also see greater fear over what a connected world and more technological progress means for them,” he said.
The triumphalism remained, albeit attenuated. He continued, “Addressing these concerns is essential for making progress on our mission, and we’re going to keep working to give people as much of a voice as we can, and advance the benefits of connectivity and bringing the world together.