Operation Concrete

Now, unfortunately, due to illness I was unable to make a screener of The Social Network, a new film by David Fincher, which follows the progression and success of Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook, but that's not to say I don't have an opinion on it.

Really, I have mixed emotions about the whole thing, I had friends in America who refused to join Myspace telling me 'Facebook is the new thing' back in 2005 just after it had launched. I joined the site as soon as it was live in the UK, and being an early adopter, I have been using it ever since. The site clearly works, it's an incredible communications tool and I have been following the progress of Mark and the ideas Facebook have been having and how they have turned it into a multi-billion dollar company in just six years, since the start. And although, as I said, I couldn't get to see the movie, I have seen a lot of clips, and I'm not sure I'm buying into it.

Here's why. There are a lot of rave reviews about the film, and everyone I have spoken to who has seen it has said it's great, I'm entirely sure it is, but I'm questioning the portrayal of Mark by Jesse Eisenberg, and possibly David's direction. Every clip I have seen of Mark over the last five years, I've seen a nervous geek with terrible interpersonal skills, not the collected character he seems to come across as.

True, the guy can talk, and is clearly clever, and articulate in most videos and interviews, but you can still see the nerves and how he just looks through people. The 'look through' people aspect is nailed by Jesse, but I didn't get a sense of the nerves from what I have seen. Some situations, where things aren't going Mark's way, such as when he just started mumbling about things when he was questioned heavily on the issue of privacy at the D8 conference in June this year, he has fallen apart. So, from the clips I've seen, I'm not sure. The jury is out until I get to see the whole thing, then I'll revisit this post.

The thing that I wanted to look into though and that I'm interested in, is the constant picture of Mark as a world class genius. Now, this is a little bit of tall poppy syndrome and a little bit of genuine curiosity, but hear me out. There is a film being released soon, called 'The Influencers' about how ideas spread, about how certain people are just 'early adopters' and can create an individual idea and bring it to the mainstream. According to BridgePayday there's no doubt that Mark has done both of those things, and has made a considerable amount of money at the same time, as well as causing considerable impact on many millions of peoples lives. Click here http://loanovao Interestingly though, his face is flashed before you in a montage of some of the worlds greatest influencers at the start of the trailer. Comparing Mark Zuckerberg to Andy Warhol? Who has and will continue to have more of an impact on western culture? Andy changed art, Mark has changed communication, each will have their impact I guess.

INFLUENCERS TRAILER from R+I creative on Vimeo.

What's really interesting though, is when you question how these people got there, is it genuine talent? Yes, without a doubt these sorts of people, Mark included, are in a top percentile of intellectually sound, creative people. However, even though it is a 'top percentile' there are still a lot of people in that category, why do some go unknown, why do some go onto make Microsoft or Facebook or Pop Art? Is it luck? Yes, without a doubt there is the element of chance in which 'forces align quietly' and moments of pure serendipity happen. However, there is more to it than talent and chance. I like to live by the mantra of, 'The Harder You Work, The Luckier You Get', which brings me neatly onto The Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell.

I like and dislike Malcolm in equal amounts, an not just because of his daft hair, mainly because he's very, very good at turning a common sense theory into something that sells millions of books, the guys clearly a genius. One of his most recent books, The Outliers, he goes about trying to assess why some people in particular attain what is generally seen as considerable amount of success, whether that be in academic terms, or monetary, or whatever, and other don't. He often refers to the 10,000 hour rule, which dictates that, to become extremely good at something, to become a success at it, you need to have practiced it for 10,000 hours. However, I've seen interviews where Mark states that his friends who helped him build Facebook read books on Perl - a programming language - 'over the weekend' and they built Facebook on that. So is Mark an exception to the rule? Yes. But there are clearly other considerations.


Environment and causal determinism both play their part; right place, right time, right upbringing, right amount of money, right family, right mental capability, right physical ability, right IQ, right, EQ, right this, right that. Some people will become criminals, others will become billionaires.

I think overall, trying to understand why and how Mark Zuckerberg, at the age of 26, is the world's youngest billionaire, takes a lot longer than a blog post, and someone of considerable more academic fortitude than myself. However, my two cents are, yes he's clever, and yes he was in the right place at the right time. Talent and Chance always go hand in hand and if that Chance raises its head, it is necessary to also put in a considerable amount of hard, constant work, combine the three, and you have success. I think that's what's happened to Mark, and also, by the looks of things, the ability to steer clear of lifes more indulgent aspects, whether by choice or not. I don't get the immediate impression I would like to go for a beer with Mark, or for that matter, if I did, whether he would see a reason in getting completely shit-faced. In the name of fun? Is that what he's missing? With a billion dollars in his pocket, I doubt it.