Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Mark Zuckerberg is Time Person of the Year

Mark Zuckerberg is Time Person of the Year - Breathe, eat, drink, sleep, defecate, and check Facebook: these make up a significant portion of a very short list of daily activities that you have in common with a quarter of a billion other humans. One item on this list is somewhat different from the rest.

There are half a billion active Facebook users. Half of those log on daily. Facebook reached 500 million in July 2010, up from 250 million in July 2009. Try to think of something comparable. Good luck.

Mark Zuckerberg is Time Person of the Year

This isn’t just a change in format, like when we all gave up our cassette collections and resigned ourselves to re-buy everything on CD. This is a new kind of thing in the world and in our lives. That might sound like an extreme claim—after all, friendship and conversation and social groups certainly aren’t new—but in a very real sense, Facebook is not just a new way of doing old things, but a new way for things to be. That’s probably why Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg was just picked as Time’s Person of the Year.

When there is a change in public sentiment or public dialog, surely our experience of the world changes, and certainly kinds of political changes become viable. When there is a political change, for some of us this may mean a new abstract international situation, for others, the realities of our day-to-day lives change. But when there is technological change, if it is truly significant, what changes is not what is viable or what is actual; what changes is what is possible. Technology forms the structure of what counts as an action, how things can happen, and what kinds of things are real. Think about how the mere fact of the existence of atomic bombs has so thoroughly changed international relations, warfare, and the idea of the nation. Think about how Napster, even though it is long gone, so thoroughly and seemingly permanently destroyed our prior personal, economic, and physical relationships with music.

Mark Zuckerberg is Time Person of the Year

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