Monday, 2 May 2011

The Social Network ...

Saturday night we finally got around to watching The Social Network, the film about the origins of Facebook.

We'd meant to go and see it when it came out, didn't get to the cinema at the time for a whole host of reasons, I then slept through most of it on a United flight back from SFO, which at least prompted me to buy the DVD, even if it took us another three months to get around to watching it. Why it took us so long to get around to watching it is one of the imponderables of life, because it was a pretty gripping, and slightly disturbing film.

How true it is, whether undergraduate life at Harvard is anything like it's portrayed (and I hope it isn't) and whether the portrayals of the main protagonists are as deservedly unsympathetic as they are in the film is for others to judge, but the story rings true.

I've seen a couple of failed startups, and the film certainly catches the manic mood, arguments and personality clashes. If you've read Robert Cringley's Accidental Empires, or books like High Stakes, you'll already be aware of the combination of luck, happenstance and hucksterism that accompany the way an IT company starts up, the idea, the product, the growing pains and so on, and the way that most projects start up as just two or three programmers working in their spare time and only once they're successful morph into something else.

However, to succeed you need to be driven and obsessional about your project, because basically until it ships you have nothing. And that definitely does not bring out the best in people. And of course, once it ships, you may still have nothing - the history of computing is littered with good concepts that just never went anywhere ...

No comments: