In the time I've been at MIT, we've had some interesting characters pass through the 'tute - Obama, Bill Gates, will.i.am, and Lady Gaga have all made appearances during my time at MIT because of some sort of collaboration with people here. It's neat-o business, folks. And as of last Monday, we got to add Mark Zuckerberg, co-founder and current CEO of Facebook, to that weird, weird group of people.
After finding out that my name had been drawn for the lottery to see him and Mike Schroepfer (VP of Engineering) have a discussion with our chancellor Eric Grimson, I packed up my FlipCam, skipped my Monday afternoon class, and biked on over to the auditorium. And just for you guys, I got some footage of his talk. Sorry in advance for all the shakiness. Here is ~10 minutes from the 1 hour talk:
(Now let me just preface my $0.02 that I'm about to spill by saying that I am by no means and expert in anything related to business, internet policy, legal stuff, technology, society, OKAY LET'S BE REAL I'M NOT AN EXPERT IN ANYTHING.)
Things Elizabeth Learned From Attending Mark Zuckerberg's Talk:
- Why he was here in the first place - I actually didn't know, and no one else seemed to know, either. He had a random press conference in the morning. Then we all realized that he was here to basically recruit people to work for Facebook. I guess that'd be cool if I wasn't a n00b. So, sorry Mark. Can't help you out, but Rachel can!
- There are some people who make it big because they are ridiculously, ridiculously brilliant, relentless and special. Then there are some people who make it big because they are pretty smart but ridiculously, ridiculously lucky. Zuckmeister seems to fall into the latter category.
How Elizabeth Felt After Hearing Mark Zuckerberg's Talk:
- Significantly more terrified of the internet, technology and the world than I ever was before.
Now, you might be thinking, Hold up, echoe - you got to see Mark Zuckerberg - the youngest billionaire in the world, the founder of Facebook - talk. Wasn't that SO cool?! And my response is yes, there was definitely some degree of novelty to his visit, but at the same time it made me soberingly-aware of how much we rely on technology despite its gaping holes. I don't mean to take jabs at Zuckerberg's intellect or anything (and I'm certainly not the one to judge, as I am one of the n00biest coders 'round these parts), but my general impression of the guy was that he is sort of aloof and unaware of the power and influence that he holds and that he has a lot of [dare I say more competent] people working for him while he gets to enjoy being the celebrity of the company. There are many things I admire about him, sure, but at the same time I couldn't help but take in some of the things he said and the way he downplayed a lot of issues with a sinking sense of horror. Take, for instance, the way he responds to the question about privacy issues at the end of the video - there are serious repercussions to the way Facebook has handled their privacy policies, yet he simply spun it off as a "Oh, we're this company and we make mistakes but overall things are going okay and we're learning from them" sort of deal. Right after I stopped taping, he actually talked about how different pre-Facebook and current culture are in tolerating people' mistakes - that because with Facebook, you run the risk of posting pictures or things that you might regret later on, it's - and this is a direct quote - "Making the world more forgiving and understanding and more empathetic."
The thing that was so unsettling for me wasn't the stuff about sharing embarrassing photos with potential employers, it was the sharing of more personal information to, say, advertisers (or other, similar parties). Zuckerberg talked about the future of the platform as it could incorporate into things outside of "social networking," like the health care system, in which case I foresee a lot more hell breaking loose. It was overall a very bizarre experience as I realized that the world's youngest billionaire is a kid. He's a kid. He makes and has made mistakes that impacted a lot of people because although he is a very smart kid, he didn't really know how to play fair (or play at all) in an adult's world at the beginning. He didn't know how to run a company, but he also really lucked out in that it seems he's found himself a very good support staff. Who knows where all of this technology is going to go in the future? Alls I know is, being at MIT and being surrounded by cutting-edge technology all the time, there are three things I want to have when I grow up and start a career:
- (Luck would also be really, really nice.)
What are your thoughts?