Welcome to the home of Noah Brier. I'm the co-founder of Variance and general internet tinkerer. Most of my writing these days is happening over at Why is this interesting?, a daily email full of interesting stuff. This site has been around since 2004. Feel free to get in touch. Good places to get started are my Framework of the Day posts or my favorite books and podcasts. Get in touch.

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The Social Network

I’ve been having a lot of conversations about movies lately. Mostly I’m unimpressed by this year’s Oscar nominated films (though I haven’t seen all of them yet). The one I seem to disagree with the most people on is Social Network, which I essentially thought sounded more like a movie full of characters speaking like they’re written by Aaron Sorkin than speaking like the characters they were supposed to represent.

In one of these conversations with Frank Rose (who, in an unrelated side note, has an excellent new book out called Art of Immersion), he pointed me to John Hagel’s critique of the film, which is actually more of a review of the reviews than anything else. Hagel’s argument, basically, is that all the critics loved this movie so much because it supports the worldview that media holds dear: That the world would be worse off without them. Back in October, he wrote:

The revolutionary is winning but the victory will be empty. He has taken something good and transformed it into something shallow. The narcissists have won and distracted everyone from the depth and substance that we, in the mainstream media, have been providing. The world will be worse off, defined by alienation and loneliness. It is a tragedy of global and historic proportions.

Seen through this lens, the distortions in the movie are not simply there to create a more engaging story; they are there to help construct a narrative of the revolution that helps to reassure the ancien regime that they were on the side of humanity. It is no wonder that the mainstream movie reviewers are jumping out of their seats and offering standing ovations.

The whole thing is worth a read.

February 4, 2011