David Kirkpatrick has succeeded where others have failed: earning the trust of the elusive Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg. As he carefully scrutinizes you with his sharp gaze framed in intellectual pasta glasses, remember how he was one of the first important journalists in the technological world who paid attention to the young visionary of social networks and gave his creation the importance that later has proven to have. In his book The Facebook Effect , he reconstructs with great precision the birth of the first empire 2.0.
What would you say is the fundamental quality to create a successful internet company?
Mark Zuckerberg was a programming genius from the age of 13. For the development of Facebook it was important that it started among programmers, because in the end the whole essence of the project comes down to software. Moreover, I believe that the latter are the revolutionaries of today’s society: in addition to Zuckerberg, we have the clear case of Julian Assange, the founder of Wikileaks, who is also a programming genius. And this revolutionary protagonism will be even more so by the young people who dedicate themselves to this and the hackers of the following generations. Any of them who want to have an impact in the future should study computer science. Those who don’t will be at a disadvantage. I’m telling you, I have a degree in English. ”He smiles. I wish I knew how to program.
Some of these young people have made Facebook a revolutionary tool. Why is it being so effective for political activism?
Because it empowers ordinary citizens and its main function is to give people a voice. On Facebook they can broadcast their ideas and share them with their friends thanks to its viral capacity. Offering people a broadcasting platform in countries like Tunisia or Egypt, which are dictatorships, is something inflammatory.
Is it then the antidote to dictatorships?
Facebook is inherently democratizing. Other internet applications, such as Twitter and mobile phones, have also been very important, but perhaps this social network is the apotheosis of the empowerment of the citizen in front of those who rule. I wouldn’t say this was planned by Zuckerberg, although he did believe it could happen. People do not join Facebook for politics, but to stay in touch with their friends, but they quickly realize that it is a very effective communication tool and end up becoming unwitting activists. I start my book by explaining how, at the beginning of 2008, the great demonstration in Colombia against the FARC emerged from a group of this social network.
I know you don’t like the movie The Social Network , inspired by the early days of Facebook.
Yes I like it, it is very entertaining, but I simply think that it should not be treated as a true story, because it does not fit reality. Not a single one of the people who participated in the film has met Mark. And I can tell you that people who do know him found the movie very frustrating, and there were those who got very angry. Both the film and Ben Mezrich’s novel on which it is based –Billionaires by accident– They greatly overestimate the contribution of Eduardo Saverin – Zuckerberg’s friend from studies who co-founded the company with him and lent him money. Saverin is the true accidental millionaire in this story: With a five-month part-time job he has made – according to Facebook’s current valuation – almost $ 3 billion.
Is Facebook already more important than Google?
No, Facebook is more important for social life, an area in which Google is not situated, but if we look at it from an economic point of view, the world is still much more dependent on Google. Almost every employee in every company in any developed economy uses Google daily to perform key searches. Those economies would be in big trouble if Google didn’t exist. I think Facebook could take steps to be meaningful in the area of search. By the way, Google wants to end Facebook for a long time, without much success for now[Following the interview with David, Google has launched its social network, Google+.]
ANDIn any case, can it end?¿It could lose importance, as has happened to MySpace?
I think not, because Zuckerberg has tried from the beginning that Facebook was not a pagecool–cool, in English – full of sophistication, like MySpace; he wanted it to be as useful and simple as possible, to become a public service. The average Facebook user does not think of it as a fad, but rather practical for communicating with their friends.
It seems that one of the keys to the success of this social network is that it has been managed by someone who did not come from the business world, but from technology.
The management has been very brilliant, it has been based on acting with logic and cold blood. Because that’s how Mark Zuckerberg is: rational and very methodical, taking all the right steps to get where he wants. He has focused on improving the product, without worrying about where the money would come from. That’s the Silicon Valley mindset, but taken to the extreme. A) YesFacebook has reached 650 million users in seven years, a figure that no company ever achieved, never in history. That is why I wanted to write a book about her. Exposure of private data worries many users.
Can we be upset by what can be learned about us?
Prudence advises some caution when deciding what data we edit on Facebook. I follow the simple cover page rule myself: I am relatively comfortable exposing a large part of myself to public scrutiny, so I put accurate information in my profile, and actively participate in discussions, but I always avoid posting anything. which I would be horrified to see on the cover of my local newspaper.
Will we spend more and more time of our lives on the Internet?
We live in a soup of data, in which the difference between digital and non-digital is blurring. Our life is increasingly electronic. My 17-year-old daughter doesn’t talk about being online, she always is. If you have a smartphone, you live all the time connected. When the generation that is being born today, or that has not turned five, reaches adolescence, there will not even be the concept of being connected.
Jose Angel Martos
Posted in Very Interesting August 2011