WikiLeaks is Facebook Inverted (and Time Magazine is stupid)

Time Magazine, as you may have heard or read, made Mark Zuckerberg the person of the year 2010. The reason they chose Zuckerberg over Julian Assange is that they think that Zuckerberg has transformed people’s lives by changing the way they exchange information and create a network with 500,000,000 members β€” while Assange was just a fad that nobody would care about any more in 6 months time. As always, someone hasn’t done their homework, I reckon.

First, not only is it not Zuckerberg who made Facebook successful, but the every single one of the people who joined and persuaded their friends to join. Other venture firms who (finally, because FB is not the first of its kind) realized the potential of this platform and added value by providing services that made it ever more exciting to be β€œin”. That said, the reason behind FB’s success is, quite bluntly, peer pressure. And wherever you find peer pressure peaking, you can assume it’s a fad at work.

Second, business models. Let’s compare both.

What WikiLeaks does is take information form ominous closed circles whose motifs we know little about but we believe to manipulate our lives, and spreads it online for the general audience to start offline activity. The premise is that an individual takes a huge risk to obtain the secret information, and she takes massive efforts to avoid any exposure.

Facebook, on the other hand, collects information about peoples’ offline activities and transfers it to ominous closed circles we know little about. The premise is that an individual is looking for an easy way for maximum exposure, not willing to invest too much effort for some hoopla only for herself.

As we know from hundreds of thousands of past examples, the first business model is rarely taking the route to success, whereas the second is unstoppable when it has enough momentum, because there’s obviously little to lose and lots to win. With WikiLeaks, it’s the other way round β€” unless, if you think about it, everyone were using (i.e., contributing to) it.

To reference my last post, Facebook is not an electric vehicle. It’s a 20th century chassis with a 21st century bodywork. And it keeps on running because segments of certain industries chose to make it so, believing it would give them an upside. Some were right, some were wrong. But the correlation between chances of winning and the number people playing the game is a negative one anywhere, not only online.


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