Who is the man behind Facebook? In this week's New Yorker, writer Jose Antonio Vargas tries to find out. The 6,000-word profile of Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg delves deep into his personal life (we meet longtime girlfriend Priscilla Chan) and explores his ideas about privacy and openness. Vargas depicts him as "robotic" and awkward, fiercely ambitious and, at times, self-deprecating.
While reporting on Zuckerberg, Vargas becomes Facebook friends with him and is surprised by how much he shares on the social networking site—a practice that in hindsight makes a lot of sense:
Zuckerberg may seem like an over-sharer in the age of over-sharing. But that’s kind of the point. Zuckerberg’s business model depends on our shifting notions of privacy, revelation, and sheer self-display. The more that people are willing to put online, the more money his site can make from advertisers. Happily for him, and the prospects of his eventual fortune, his business interests align perfectly with his personal philosophy.
Here's what others are saying about the article:
Here Are My Favorite Parts, writes Nicholas Carlson at Business Insider:
In 1996, Zuck built an instant messaging program in Atari BASIC for his dad's dental office. His family used it to communicate. They called it ZuckNet.
AOL and Microsoft offered to buy a music program Zuckerberg wrote in high school.
Mark drives a black Acura TSX because it is "safe, comfortable, not ostentatious."
Facebook is blue because Zuckerberg is red-green color blind. "Blue is the richest color for me. I can see all of blue," he tells Vargas.
Facebook has conference rooms named after bad ideas. Some of the names are hilarious: "Knife at a Gunfight," "Subprime Mortgage," and, our favorite, "Beacon."
- Vargas Quoted Me in His Article: Let Me Elaborate, writes Facebook critic and Web pioneer Anil Dash on his personal blog. In the New Yorker article, Dash was quoted as saying "If you are twenty-six years old, you’ve been a golden child, you’ve been wealthy all your life, you’ve been privileged all your life, you’ve been successful your whole life, of course you don’t think anybody would ever have anything to hide." Elaborating on that, Dash says:
That's an accurate quote, but there's even more nuance to my feelings about Facebook than merely remarking on the privilege of its CEO. The truth is, I care deeply about the culture of the web, and am concerned that many of the decisions Facebook makes are detrimental to its culture, particularly when Facebook inadvertently imposes an extreme set of values on its users without adequately communicating the consequences of those choices... Let's be clear, Facebook is philosophically run by people who are extremists about information sharing.
- Zuckerberg Isn't Actually Feuding with Aaron Sorkin, writes Kashmir Hill at Forbes: "Vargas makes a big deal of the fact that Zuck had listed the West Wing as one of his favorite shows — created by Aaron Sorkin, who is also behind the evil 'Social Network' movie. Vargas writes that Zuck removed that movie from his favorites during the course of his reporting. But even non-friends will get to see that he’s apparently forgiven Sorkin (or at least doesn’t want to be seen as petty) as he very recently added it back to his favorite shows."