Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Facebook's Founder: New Year, New Mistakes

Mark Zuckerberg, the Facebook founder wunderkind, has
done it again, a bold statement: privacy is dead, he proclaims,
social norms show this to be true. --Say, did he take a survey?
He's just making a firm conclusion based on perceptions
gleaned from mass media, all of it. But life for us seven billion
plus humans is more complicated than Mr. Zuckerberg's
shallow analysis allows.

I submit he is wrong, on several fronts. People CAN calibrate
just how much privacy they desire/require, even if extra effort
must be expended to achieve their comfort level. In public,
there has never been any legal expectation of privacy, even for
those who hope to blend anonymously into a crowd, so that
aspect remains the same even with mounted cameras. But they
can choose whether to email, join a social website, etc. Some,
like me, choosing not to be subjugated to overly personal airport
body searches, have given up flying in the post 911 era.

Fame doesn't exactly equal loss of privacy, either. All of our
most publicized celebrities, just like the rest of us, can have
locked doors and covered windows at home! So Zuckerberg,
silly lad that he is, his computer genius notwithstanding,
made a whopping gaffe. He'd be a lot better off attending to
the various lawsuits coming his way.

MZ may be referring to a subset of Americans, albeit
somewhat large, who want to "be up to date in Kansas City",
"Keep up with the Joneses", etc. These people, mostly the
under-45 crowd, seemingly keenly feel peer pressure, even
toil in industries which honor such pressure. But there are
also many intelligent folk who challenge such current notions
of "social norms", have better things to do than Twitter or
Facebook only about ordinary, inane activities.

A lot of these smarter people have read and heeded the
prescient message in The Time Machine by H.G. Wells;
would anyone want to be part of either of the two future
societies Wells describes?

I view such a prospect with the proper fear and loathing it
deserves. Mr. Zuckerberg could profit from a reading (or
re-reading) of The Time Machine as well.