★ On Facebook and Revolutionaries

In less than two weeks, David Fincher will release his newest film, The Social Network, starring Jesse Eisenberg as Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. Although I originally had little interest in the project, owing primary to my somewhat nebulous relationship to Facebook as a platform (as previously discussed in the June 28, 2010 post entitled "On Twitter, Facebook, and Communication Habits"), clever marketing and positive word of mouth have slowly raised my enthusiasm level, and I now fully intend to be in line on opening night. Once I've seen the film, I'll post a review here elaborating on these thoughts, but I think it's worth putting this out here now. A figure like Mark Zuckerberg is never going to be understood or properly appreciated in his lifetime. Zuckerberg, like Gates, Jobs, and other tech titans before him, has fundamentally redefined the way human beings communicate with one another. Regardless of what one thinks of Facebook in its present form, its founding may one day be looked back on as a defining event in human history, and a genuinely revolutionary moment.

The romantic notion of a revolutionary has always struck me as being fundamentally flawed. The word itself conjures images of guerilla fighters, underground warriors, rebels - small, nameless men of nebulous ethos who often fight losing battles but are remembered by history for fighting at all. The world' most famous revolutionary in the modern sense of the world - Che Guevara - is more recognized now as an icon than a man, his face sold on t-shirts as a brand in defiance of the ideology he preached. To be a revolutionary in this sense is to be a failed revolutionary.

Who are the successful revolutionaries of our modern age? They're the Mark Zuckerbergs, the Steve Jobses, the Bill Gateses, the Sergey Brins, the Michael Bloombergs, the Jack Dorseys. They've done more to shape lives than anyone gives them credit, because when most look at them, yet we write them off as simple executives, too locked into our own conception of what is and isn't revolution to recognize the real thing when we see it.