Image by jdlasica via Flickr
I finally saw The Social Network last night. I was impressed with screen writer Aaron Sorkin’s presentation, his trademark snappy dialogue (the opening scene is classic Sorkin), but one aspect that struck my wife and me as we were discussing it in the car afterward was the irony that this seemingly anti-social guy created the world’s most successful social network.
It got me wondering though just how much of this film was fact and just how much was fiction and what realistic conclusions we can draw about Zuckerberg based on this movie.
I had read that the book on which this was based, The Accidental Billionaires, was poorly researched and that the author, Ben Merzich didn’t do his homework. Janet Maslin at the New York Times in particular took Merzich to task for his work.
So I took look at this interview with Sorkin, whose brilliant body of work includes The American President and the West Wing TV show. Sorkin pointed out that Zuckerberg refused to be involved in the film and who can blame him. Therefore the research fell into three categories:
- The public record on the internet such as his blogs (which are used in the film).
- Court papers
- First person accounts of what happened.
The third piece is the tricky part and Sorkin admits that many of the people he interviewed (some of whom are portrayed in the film) had an axe to grind with Zuckerberg, but Sorkin points out that the picture they painted of a guy on the outside of Harvard’s social life is an accurate one.
In the end, it’s a movie and Zuckerberg is probably a more complex individual than the one portrayed brilliantly by Jesse Eisenberg in the film, but as Sorkin points out maybe it wasn’t ironic that an anti-social man built such a successful online social network.
Maybe he built a place where he himself could feel comfortable interacting socially and that is something I can believe.
Cross posted on by ron miller.
October 18, 2010: Interesting follow-up to this post. See this video on by Ron Miller.