The Social Network Film & Building Something Great

Being incapable of resisting Aaron Sorkin, David Fincher, Atticus Ross, and Trent Reznor (and Justin Timberlake) in one place, we matinee-ed The Social Network on Saturday.

Artistically, I’m a sucker for Sorkin’s unique brand of rapid-fire, no-one-is-this-consistently-unstoppably-clever-and-articulate-in-real-time-in-real-life dialogue (see A Few Good Men and the first four seasons of The West Wing). So, much to my delight, the poorly-initially-dubbed “Facebook movie” is actually quite good—a highly-fictionalized, tense, engaging story about friendship, business, cash, class, exclusivity, and openness. 

Like any good film, the conversations and thoughts that follow have expanded outside the scope of the movie’s plot and taken on a life of their own.

If you guys were the inventors of Facebook, you’d have invented Facebook.

Fictional Zuck

For the last year I’ve been somewhat preoccupied with the creative tension between ideas and execution. Reading Behance founder Scott Bleksy‘s excellent book Making Ideas Happen helped me articulate and understand that tension better. Being on a leanly-staffed, high-capacity, project-intensive team has put those articulations to the test. And unsurprisingly, watching The Social Network has given me a lot to chew on in terms of what is valuable—is it the mythical million dollar idea, or the actual million dollar execution of an idea?

Ideas that never ship are never criticized.

I have a habit of coming up with ideas—a site that does this, an app that does that, a service that scratches a proverbial itch—but I rarely follow through on them, even though I believe all success is a matter of doing. “Talk doesn’t cook rice,” as the Chinese say. Is that fear of criticism? Lack of discipline? Lack of appropriately allocated time? Boredom? If nothing else, watching The Social Network gave me a good kick to continue the pursuit of building something great. To spend less time on idea-generating and more time on idea-executing. And if that’s all that comes out of Facebook taking over the world, I say it might be a good thing. We need more people inspired to build great things.