Tag Archives: manifesto

The Zuckerberg manifesto: How he plans to debug the world

Mark Zuckerberg’s long-term vision for Facebook, laid out in a sweeping manifesto , sometimes sounds more like a utopian social guide than a business plan. Are we, he asks, “building the world we all want?”

While most people now use Facebook to connect with friends and family, Zuckerberg thinks that the social network can also encourage more civic engagement, from the local to the global level. Facebook now has nearly 2 billion members, which makes it larger than any nation in the world.

His 5,800-word essay positions Facebook in direct opposition to a rising tide of isolationism and fear of outsiders, both in the U.S. and abroad. In a phone interview with The Associated Press, Zuckerberg stressed that he wasn’t motivated by the U.S. election or any other particular event. Rather, he said, it’s the growing sentiment in many parts of the world that “connecting the world” — the founding idea behind Facebook — is no longer a good thing.

“Across the world there are people left behind by globalization, and movements for withdrawing from global connection,” Zuckerberg, who founded Facebook in a Harvard dorm room in 2004, wrote on Thursday. So it falls to the company to “develop the social infrastructure to give people the power to build a global community that works for all of us.”

CONNECTING IN FACEBOOK’S INTEREST

Zuckerberg, 32, told the AP that he still strongly believes that more connectedness is the right direction for the world. But, he added, it’s “not enough if it’s good for some people but it’s doesn’t work for other people. We really have to bring everyone along.”

It’s hardly a surprise that Zuckerberg wants to find ways to bring more people together, especially on Facebook. After all, getting more people to come together on the social network more frequently would give Facebook more opportunities to sell the ads that generate most of its revenue, which totaled $27 billion last year. And bringing in more money probably would boost Facebook’s stock price to make Zuckerberg _ already worth an estimated $56 billion _ even richer.

And while the idea of unifying the world is laudable, some critics _ backed by various studies _ contend Facebook makes some people feel lonelier and more isolated as they scroll through the mostly ebullient posts and photos shared on the social network. Facebook’s famous “like” button also makes it easy to engage in a form of “one-click” communication that can displace meaningful dialogue.

Facebook also has been lambasted as a polarizing force by circulating posts espousing similar viewpoints and interests among like-minded people, creating an “echo chamber” that can harden opinions and widen political and cultural chasms.

COMMUNITY SUPPORT

Today, most of Facebook’s 1.86 billion members — about 85 percent — live outside of the U.S. and Canada. The Menlo Park, California-based company has offices everywhere from Amsterdam to Jakarta, Indonesia, to Tel Aviv, Israel. (It is banned in China, the world’s most populous country, though some people get around the ban.) Naturally, Zuckerberg takes a global view of Facebook and sees potential that goes beyond borders, cities and nations.

And that could allow the social network to step up as more traditional cultural ties fray. People already use Facebook to connect with strangers who have the same rare disease, to post political diatribes, to share news links (and sometimes fake news links ). Facebook has also pushed its users to register to vote, to donate to causes, to mark themselves safe after natural disasters, and to “go live .” For many, it’s become a utility. Some 1.23 billion people use it daily.

“For the past decade, Facebook has focused on connecting friends and families. With that foundation, our next focus will be developing the social infrastructure for community _ for supporting us, for keeping us safe, for informing us, for civic engagement, and for inclusion of all,” he wrote.

LONG VIEW

Zuckerberg has gotten Facebook to this position of global dominance _ one that Myspace and Twitter, for instance, never even approached _ partly thanks to his audacious, long-term view of the company and its place in the world.

Last fall, Zuckerberg and his wife, the doctor Priscilla Chan, unveiled the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative , a long-term effort aimed at eradicating all disease by the end of this century. Then, as now, Zuckerberg preferred to look far down the road to the potential of scientific and technological innovations that have not been perfected, or even invented yet.

That includes artificial intelligence, which in this case means software that’s capable of “thinking” enough like humans to start making the sorts of judgments that Facebook sometimes bobbles. Last September, for instance, the service briefly barred the famous Vietnam War-era photograph dubbed “Napalm Girl” because it featured a nude child, and only reversed its decision after users — including the prime minister of Norway — protested.

AI systems could also comb through the vast amount of material users post on Facebook to detect everything from bullying to the early signs of suicidal thinking to extremist recruiting. AI, Zuckerberg wrote, could “understand more quickly and accurately what is happening across our community.”

Speaking to the AP, Zuckerberg said he understands that we might not “solve all the issues that we want” in the short term.

“One of my favorite quotes is this Bill Gates quote, that ‘people overestimate what they can get done in two years and underestimate what they can get done in 10 years.’ And that’s an important mindset that I hope more people take today,” he said.

 

University panel to talk music-politics connection

The Lambuth campus of the University of Memphis is sponsoring a panel discussion about the relationship between politics and music.

The university says the symposium is scheduled for March 22 in the Hamilton Performing Arts Center on the Jackson campus.

Among the topics that will be discussed is “Frank Zappa and the First Amendment,” which focuses on the anti-censorship efforts and themes Zappa championed through his music.

Other scheduled discussions include “Gender in Hip Hop: Hearing Women’s Voices in Hip Hop Music,” “The Political Manifesto Music of Richard Wagner” and “Media Interpretation vs. Artistic Intent: The Popular Portrayal of Ozzy Osbourne.”

University of Michigan celebrates Port Huron Statement, New Left

The University of Michigan is hosting a conference to examine the effect of the drafting 50 years ago of The Port Huron Statement, a founding document of the New Left movement that fueled civil rights and anti-Vietnam War activism on the nation’s college campuses in the 1960s.

The conference began Wednesday and runs through today. It features Tom Hayden, Al Haber and other founders of Students for a Democratic Society.

Hayden was an ex-editor of The Michigan Daily when he and others drafted the 75-page manifesto outlining goals for the New Left and calling for “participatory democracy” in America.

The university says the conference focuses on the New Left’s early period, with discussions of the civil rights, women’s liberation and anti-war movements.

The statement began, “We are people of this generation, bred in at least modest comfort, housed now in universities, looking uncomfortably to the world we inherit.”

On the Web…

The statement: 

http://books.google.com/books/about/The_Port_Huron_Statement.html?id=Qy57wrJoSngC

The conference: http://www.lsa.umich.edu/phs/program