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Rory Cellan-Jones on Mark Zuckerberg

October 11, 2008

Lovely Rory Cellan-Jones posts a video interview he conducted with Facebook Maestro Mark Zuckerberg on the BBC blog. I wouldn’t normally pour over Mr Cellan-Jones’ blog but seeing as the BBC Internet Blog people are linking to me I figured it would be the Thoroughly Good thing to do to to consume a few more BBC Blogs.

Actually, I wouldn’t want anyone to think I’m some kind of fawning individual. After all, I work at the BBC. Constantly banging on about the Corporation in every other blog posting might seem like I’m selling out. It doesn’t need me to blog about it. And, quite apart from anything else, I’m paid to do something entirely different anyway.

I am digressing. It’s a terrible, shameful habit.

There is, in fact, a far more important reason why I’m reading Mr Cellan-Jones’ blog. It’s because of something my 70+ mother said of the technology programme Click Online on the BBC News channel.

“Oh yes,” she said excitedly on the phone to me this morning as I tried to explain in layman’s terms about internet blogs and why I was updating mine on holiday, “I know all about blogs, my dear. I watch that Click programme.”

I was a little surprised, I have to confess. My mother – a former newsagent and pillar of the local community – has never logged on to the internet for anything, ever. How would she know about blogs if she doesn’t use the internet?

My sense of surprise was quickly replaced by pride before the inevitable and now familiar feelings of bitterness and resentment poured over me like a thick sauce.

“You know the presenter of Click?” I asked her, keen not to sound as though I was flagging up a crass moment, “His name’s Spencer, isn’t it?” 

“Yes, that’s right” replied my mother, “he’s called Spencer.”

“I often see him on the tube on my way into work, you know.” I said with a certain amount of low-key pride.

“You don’t like him, do you?” asked my mother.

So, given that my mother watches Click on BBC News and understands about blogging, I figure the least I can do is consume Mr Cellan-Jones’ latest blog about Mark Zuckerberg.

Zuckerberg is someone I assume I wouldn’t like. He is, after all, the bain of my relatively limited technical project management life. I know only from personal experience the sinking feeling which results when people suddenly leap on the “Let’s have a Facebook application” bandwagon. “If we build it, they will come.”

And yet as a user (and a heavy one at that, I freely admit) I find myself intensely irritated by the spamming and the monitoring and the targeted advertising (if you look at my profile you’ll see I’m married and thus won’t be interested in dating gay men from San Francisco dressed only in a rubber thong). No, I don’t want to compare my friends. No I don’t want to comment on which one of my male friends is hot or not. There’s a simple reason for this. My husband is one of my friends. Why would I want him to have proof that I’m window shopping? How is that going to help my social networking?

Obviously, Zuckerberg isn’t ultimately responsible for the different creative ways various developers have exploited the Facebook platform. Zuckerberg isn’t entirely at fault. The genius which emerges from the Zuckerberg-Facebook story is that the skeleton has been laid out for others to graft on to. He’s established a global brand and, like all well-known global brands, maybe it’s best he doesn’t always think about the profits.

In fact, when I stop to consider the other potential causes for my irritation with him – the fact that he’s a billionaire (on paper, at least), if not business minded then certainly now media-savvy and the fact he’s only 24 years old – I still find myself unable to sustain the bile I would normally have about people like him.

Somewhere in the middle of the 3’28”, Zuckerberg shows himself as a nice guy. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that he shows himself as the geek we all of us reckon he must have been if we believe the Facebook development story.

Facebook and (by extension Zuckerberg) is both a wonderful thing and a dark thing. The one thing you can’t dispense with even though you’d like to sometimes.

Of course, I could be wrong. I could be playing into the hands of the media-savvy people who prepared him (if indeed they did) before his interview with Uncle Rory. I have to keep an open mind. I have to remain reasonably impartial.

Maybe Mr Zuckerberg should do a few more interviews, just so I can be sure.

From → Media

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