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The Social Network

By Matthew Yglesias  

"The Social Network"

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Really enjoyable movie. A welcome reminder that good acting, a good script, and good pacing can get you very far. It’s possible to create drama without anyone getting killed or anyone’s life ever being in danger!

For a true story, though, I caution you that a lot of it is made up. For example the facts about Mark Zuckerberg’s “relationship status” are wrong (though the made-up story is better than the true one) and the key issue in the Saverin lawsuit isn’t described right. There was, however, in my view a great deal of verisimilitude in depicting the atmosphere at Harvard circa 2003 where pathologically competitive people were thick on the ground. It’s too bad they couldn’t get permission to shoot on campus and show you the real Kirkland House (a house is basically a dorm) which is also home to such internet pioneers as Yours Truly and Dylan Matthews along with luminaries such as Pat Toomey and Thomas Sowell.

If you’re looking for Facebook-related political commentary, I think Larry Lessig shoots and scores on the oddity of taking a lawyer’s eye view of the situation. But I woud add that the fundamental message of Facebook and a lot of other digital-era firms has to do with the economics of networks where relatively small initial differences in quality or timing can lead to gargantuan differences in economic outcomes. These things happen in all kinds of fields, of course, but it’s especially pronounced in software.

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