Missing the Point of Aaron Sorkin’s ‘The Social Network’

The Social Network

The Social Network

Great insight from New Republic writer Lawrence Lessig on how “The Social Network” writer Aaron Sorkin completely misses the point of the story of Facebook and its founder, Mark Zuckerberg. Lessig concludes that the audience will miss the point, too.

The real deal here is innovation, and how the Internet is the most powerful platform for it in our history. Because of it, Lessig writes, “Zuckerberg’s genius could be embraced by half-a-billion people within six years of its first being launched, without (and here is the critical bit) asking permission of anyone” [emphasis mine].

Zuckerberg put his code, his idea, on the Web for all to access for less than $1,000. Used to be, the question of distribution was a tough one for some innovators. Not so for Zuckerberg. Not so for anyone with a Web-ready idea today.

But people who see “The Social Network” this weekend likely won’t get that, Lessig writes:

Practically everyone walking out will think they understand genius on the Internet. But almost none will have seen the real genius here. And that is tragedy because just at the moment when we celebrate the product of these two wonders—Zuckerberg and the Internet—working together, policymakers are conspiring ferociously with old world powers to remove the conditions for this success. As “network neutrality” gets bargained away—to add insult to injury, by an administration that was elected with the promise to defend it—the opportunities for the Zuckerbergs of tomorrow will shrink. And as they do, we will return more to the world where success depends upon permission. And privilege. And insiders. And where fewer turn their souls to inventing the next great idea.

Full article: Sorkin vs. Zuckerberg, The New Republic

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Forget Ping for Now; Apple TV’s the Real News

Apple TV

Apple TV

… iTunes in the context of Apple TV is vastly more interesting—in fact, Apple TV is by far the most enthralling thing Apple announced this week, a model for what Apple products should be more like.

Apple TV’s integration with AirPlay and an upcoming, more powerful new Remote app soothes a lot of the anxiety about the inexplicable sense of disconnect between various Apple products.

The Seeds of Apple’s Cloud – Gizmodo

There was peculation that Apple would make good on its purchase of Lala this week by finally putting iTunes in the cloud, allowing you to stream your music library from anywhere. That didn’t happen. But the connectivity heralded by the new Apple TV to all IOS devices is a really cool step in the right direction.

Despite it’s “meh” debut, the undercooked Ping might pay off farther down the road (name another social network that has more than 100 million credit card numbers already on file). The bigger announcement this week was the new Apple TV — not so much the odd “rent and don’t purchase” model, not even the Netflix integration, which should have been part of Apple TV from the git-go — but the way it easily brings together files on your Mac, iPad, iPhone and every other AirPlay enabled device third-party manufacturers can crank out.

You could argue that other services like Boxee already do this and even allow more customization and better access to wider variety of file formats. But like everything else from Apple, the new Apple TV makes it easier, particularly if you’re already part of its ecosystem. And if you’re not, this might make you want to be.

Cable Sees Its Worst Subscriber Loss, Which Makes Perfect Sense

Cable suffered its worst video loss, shedding 711,000 video subscribers in the second quarter, as six of the eight biggest cable firms reported their most dismal three-month period. Overall, cable, satellite TV and telecom providers shed 216,000 video customers in Q2 compared with a 378,000 gain in the same period a year earlier.

SNL Kagan estimates that almost 3 million U.S. households will use Hulu and other Web TV options as their primary video solution by the end of the year, up from 1.5 million in 2009. For 2011, the company expects that figure to hit 4.3 million. (There are about 115 million TV households in the States.)

– Cable’s decline an incentive for Yahoo, Hulu deal

This has been a long time coming, of course. People can only put with with subpar customer service and expensive, overstuffed channel packages for so long. Add to that the rise of Web-enabled TVs with apps that allow streaming from Netflex, Vudu, YouTube and Hulu and you’ve got all kinds of reason to dump traditional cable.

Mad Men on iTunes

No AMC? We've decided 'Mad Men' is worth paying for, so we get new episodes via iTunes.

Here’s how it’s been working at my house this summer after a move necessitated dumping Comcast. Now we get the four major networks, in HD, and any of their secondary digital channels over-the-air via digital antenna for free. We supplement  that with an $11 per month Netflix subscription, which gets us one DVD or Blu-ray at a time, plus unlimited streaming of Netflix’s Watch Instantly library.

We access streaming content via our Samsung Blu-ray player, which comes equipped with a Netflix app, along with other services like Wal-Mart’s Vudu, Blockbuster, Pandora and YouTube. It’s connected to the Web with our $35 per month SuddenLink high-speed Internet access.

Any other shows we’re missing, we can always connect the MacBook Pro to the TV to access iTunes content or, really, anything else out there for free on Web.

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Facebook Places: Taking Check-ins Global

So I’ve long thought that services like Gowalla and Foursquare (which allow you to “check-in” when you visit certain locations, see which of your friends me be there or see what special deals or services that location is offering) has a big hurdle in terms of widespread adoption. In short, there aren’t enough people using these esoteric little services yet to matter much.

But all that might be about to change with Facebook Places, which took the idea from Gowalla and Foursquare and made it automatically available to its hundreds of millions of users on Wednesday.

More thoughts, after the jump.

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Mad Men and The Sopranos: Dropping the Mask

If there is a single theme to such disparate productions as The Sopranos and Mad Men, a single theme that explains their hypnotic attraction, however different their settings, it may be dignity—the struggle of humans to hold onto it in their own, often enough crazy ways. In Mad Men, that struggle takes place in changing social times as the characters try to preserve the best of themselves and discard the worst. But the human condition being what it is, we may wind up doing the reverse. Maybe it depends on the models we choose.

– Paul Greenberg in today’s “Column One.”

There’s a lot of common themes between these two shows, but I’d never considered human dignity to among them. I suppose it’s there, particularly in The Sopranos, as Tony and his Family run roughshod over the whole of New Jersey, contaminating or destroying those they touch.

I’d argue the real common ground between these excellent series is in how these characters constantly lie to each other and themselves. These people are simply unable to tell the truth. And when the insights come, they are quickly dismissed or — worse — willingly misinterpreted.

This is why Tony might as well be dead in the series finale. At that point, his inner circle decimated, he’s out of therapy, persuaded his children to make the easy choices and insulated himself from any further insight. He’s anesthetized to the brutal truth of his world. There’s a reason so many of those final episodes open or close with Tony in bed, asleep.

It’s too early to tell how long Don Draper will maintain the lie. Early in the fourth season, the mask shows signs of slipping.

And maybe that’s where this talk of “dignity” comes from. Don’s been the very model of success and station, a complete transformation from his hardscrabble roots. That’s the struggle: At the core, what is the best of Don, and what must be discarded? Tony already made his choice.

Eric Overmyer Drops ‘Treme’ Season Two Hints at Clinton School

Eric Overmyer at the Clinton School

Eric Overmyer (center), co-creator of HBO's "Treme," speaks at the Clinton School of Public Service in Little Rock. He was interviewed by Nikolai DiPippa, left. Skip Rutherford, dean of the school, is at right.

Last night, we went to the Clinton School of Public Service to hear from Eric Overmyer, co-creator of HBO’s post-Katrina New Orleans drama “Treme.” While he couldn’t be too specific, Overmyer did drop some hints about the focus of the show’s second season, scheduled to begin shooting this fall in the Big Easy.

You can read my full post on Overmyer’s talk on InArkansas.com’s Play Blog.

Overmyer, a playwright and TV writer who’s worked on shows including NBC’s “St. Elsewhere” and “Homicide: Life on the Street,” had a big hand in another HBO show by David Simon, “The Wire,” where he worked as a writer and consulting producer during the show’s lauded fourth season, which focused on the troubled Baltimore school system.

More on The Wire

The End of “The Wire”

Does David Simon’s Sun Vendetta Deaden “The Wire”?

Monument Circle, Downtown Indianapolis

Monument Circle

Also Friday:

Drink’s at Don Shula’s at the hotel

Dinner at St. Elmo’s downtown

A trip to Luna Music for vinyl, CDs