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

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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Rolling Stone, the McChrystal Story and the Web

Rolling Stone

The McChrystal piece, as it finally appeared on RS' Web site.

For the first time in maybe a generation, Rolling Stone has published a series of relevant, well-reported news stories and gripping analysis pieces. Matt Taibbi’s searing series on the Wall Street bailout and Goldman Sachs comes to mind, as well as Tim Dickinson’s recent report on the Obama administration and the BP oil spill.

And of course the latest is Michael Hastings’ profile of Gen. Stanley McChrystal, which is focusing new (and necessary) attention on the war in Afghanistan and might very well cost the general his job. (We’ll know the outcome of that storyline later today. Now we know: McChrystal out, Petraeus in.)

Too bad RS doesn’t know how to handle all this newfound relevance on the Web!

As I noted on the comments board today at Blake’s Think Tank:

The bigger story here? Rolling Stone, relevant again! The latest in a string of stories — including Matt Taibbi’s series on Wall Street and Goldman Sachs — that has made real waves.

Interestingly, RS appeared unprepared for the type of attention the story would generate. The feature wasn’t on its Web site until today (or maybe late yesterday), and only after Politico posted a PDF of the spread, which has yet to hit newsstands. (Politico eventually took it down after RS complained.)

That’s right: When the “story about the story” broke early Tuesday morning, you couldn’t find the RS piece on its Web site. In fact, most people read about it first in accounts by The Washington Post (linked to by Drudge) or — amazingly — in a PDF of the RS spread hosted and tweeted by Politico.

Like many legacy media companies, Jann Wenner’s Rolling Stone has had an awkward go of it in the transition to digital. Primarily a music magazine, Rolling Stone’s Web site hasn’t kept up with how music has flourished online — sites like Pitchfork, Idolator, Stereogum and dozens of others have become the go-to destinations for music news, reviews and downloads. The latest iteration of its Web site, RollingStone.com, doesn’t get it much closer.

And this week, RS and its staff missed a huge opportunity to capitalize on the buzz its editors should have known the McChrystal piece would generate. By the time RS finally posted the story to its site late yesterday, most people had likely read the Politico PDF or, worse, felt they had gotten enough about it in the countless summaries and news reports.

And now that the story is posted, the press and readers have moved on to the next part of the narrative: McChrystal’s meeting with Obama and his fate as general. Will RS follow up on what its story hath wrought? They say they will. But they haven’t yet. Clock’s ticking!

Meanwhile, writer Michael Hastings has been making the media rounds, answer all kinds of questions about the story — how he reported it, the access he had, what he thinks about its reception. Why hasn’t Rolling Stone done this? Why haven’t they owned all parts of this story?

As Talking Points Memo notes, Rolling Stone squandered a huge opportunity with this story. Hopefully its editors learn from their mistakes, and we’ll refrain from using the “gathers no moss” cliché.

More

Michael Calderone, now writing for Yahoo!, has an assessment of RS and the news cycle here.

The Nieman Journalism Lab on how Rolling Stone’s late start on its own story cost it comments, reader interaction. (Thanks Emily!)

#ARElections: A Sampling of Tuesday Night’s Political Coverage in Central Arkansas

With nearly 30 candidates running for Congressional seats, millions of dollars pouring into Arkansas media and plenty of national attention focusing on That U.S. Senate Race, tonight night is an Arkansas political junkie’s dream. How does one keep up with it all?

Here’s a sampling of where you can get the latest political news coverage after the polls close tomorrow night. (Any additions or updates, please let me know.)

TV

Jeff Hankins and I will be live all night on Today’s THV’s THV2, the CBS affiliate’s second digital channel. We’ll also be cutting into CBS programming throughout the night, with a big wrap-up at 10 p.m. Steve Ronnelle, president of the Political Animals Club of Central Arkansas, is among the guests.

KATV-TV, Channel 7 – The ABC affiliate pre-empts “V” at 9 p.m. with a 1-hour election special.

KARK-TV, Channel 4 – The NBC affiliate will have Bill Vickery and Pat Lynch as part of its coverage.

KLRT-TV, Channel 16 – The Fox affiliate will have Roby Brock as part of its regular, hour-long newscast at 9 p.m.

Radio

KARN-FM, 102.9Blake Rutherford and Jason Tolbert sit in with Dave Elswick for wall-t0-wall coverage. You can listen live online here. And check Twitter for live comments from Rutherford and Tolbert. (KARN listeners, please be nice to Blake.)

KUAR-FM, 89.1, (NPR in Little Rock) – Rex Nelson sits in, along with news coverage from Ron Breeding, Kelly MacNeil and the gang. Listen live online here.

Online

Again, you watch Today’s THV’s THV2 election coverage streaming live online here.

ArkansasBusiness.com – We’ll have updated analysis, as well as the latest numbers and stories from the Associated Press wire. For iPhones and Blackberries, go to m.inarkansas.com/news for those latest news headlines in a mobile-friendly format.

Arkansas Times Blog – No doubt there will be analysis from Editor Max Brantley and lots of colorful comments from readers.

ARElections.org – Returns as they come in. All the numbers, right here.

Related

On the Think Tank, Rutherford has a final pre-election media round-up of local and national coverage and commentary on today’s races.

Making Online News Work in Small-town Arkansas

It’s happening. Someone people are doing it. We’ve noted the Fayetteville Flyer, Ozarks Unbound, the CityWire and others. And this week, Arkansas Business media writer Sam Eifling checks in with two other online-only news sites: the MagnoliaReporter.com and MonticelloLive.com,

which has received 1.7 million page views during the past year. Its growth tickles Joe Burgess, who has owned and run the site since October 2007.

After three years on MonticelloLive.com, Burgess is convinced his style of coverage is sustainable, and here to remain as a competitor to the local paper (the Advance Monticellonian, in this case). “Convenience stores, instant coffee and faster information,” he says. “It’s all the same concept.

Right now, they’re small operations. But they’ve got the right idea: covering intensely local news intensely, offering readers news they can’t find anywhere else, even in the competing print paper.

Also

TolbertReport.com teams with InsideSaline.com and MySaline.com to present a day of debates by candidates in local elections.

Wal-Mart Worries in Northwest Arkansas and Has the State Jobless Rate Peaked? in This Week’s Arkansas Business

Arkansas Business is on the racks and the InterWebs now! Let’s take a look-see, shall we?

Gulp! Wal-Mart’s home office job cuts and a slow exodus of vendors — along with whispers about decentralized operations — has northwest Arkansans seeking new economic development engines for the region.

Is this as bad as it gets? Arkansas’ top economists think the state’s unemployment rate might have finally peaked. Still, it’s tough out there. Includes a look at how many jobs we’ve lost since 2007.

Banking on social media: Arkansas banks wade carefully into the waters of social media — and a sea of federal and industry regulations.

Let’s toot our own horn! Gwen Moritz on just how prescient Arkansas Business has been on a host of issues: banks pruning their branches and — of course — Asian carp!