|Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook Founder and CEO|
|One of many scenes in The Social Network when students|
are shown looking to connect online.
"The final exam was a week away and he was in a panic. It’s one thing to drop out of Harvard to start a gigantic, world-changing company; it’s another to flunk.
Zuckerberg did what comes naturally to a native of the web. He went to the internet and downloaded images of art he knew would be covered in the exam. He put them on a web page and added blank boxes under each. Then he emailed the address of this page to his class-mates, telling them he’d just put up a study guide. Think Tom Sawyer’s fence. The class dutifully came along and filled in the blanks with the essential knowledge about each piece of art, editing each other as they went, collaborating to get it just right. This being Harvard, they did a good job of it.
You can predict the punch line: Zuckerberg aced the exam. But here’s the real kicker: The professor said the class as a whole got better grades than usual. They captured the wisdom of their crowd and helped each other. Zuckerberg had created the means for the class to collaborate. He brought them elegant organization."
What I love about this story is how the art history professor not only applauded the efforts of Zuckerberg (however selfish the original reasons were), but also recognized how the student collaboration had raised the collective grade point average for the exam. In this sense, elegant organization has a critical potential to transform how and through what means we learn and share information. But it can also work in new, unexpected, and unintended way. This is the potential I hope exists with my use of Facebook, especially associated with this blog, and I just love that art history and the mediation of images had a role to play in getting to that important realization.
And so yes, I still remain ambivalent about Facebook and yes, I have an account (I even tried the new profile today and actually kind of like it), but I am hoping that this story helps inspire more critical thought about elegant organization and perhaps inspires students with final exams looming to study in groups-- it really does work-- or better yet, figure out how to do what Zuckerberg did. I dare you!