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Sunday, October 17, 2010

Review: The Social Network

Between Scott Adams' review of the movie and Steve Grimm telling me that teenagers were considering becoming computer scientists because of the movie, I had to see it in the theaters. Unlike other movies based on books, I did not read The Accidental Billionaires since the book had so many negative reviews.

Well, the movie should also be considered fiction, and most likely the real story wouldn't be as exciting to tell, but what the heck. I enjoyed the depiction of someone who could (and did) flout social convention and hacked his way into greatness. I certainly didn't think the movie was wholly negative about Facebook (if anything, I think Facebook will probably get more signups because of the movie), and the plot was at least interesting, if not quite "edge of your seat" gripping.

There is one section of the movie that does ring true though, which is to come to Silicon Valley if you're a geek and building a startup. Earlier this year someone asked me for advice, since he was contemplating a move to China. I told him in no uncertain terms that it would be a mistake for his career. Sure enough, by the time the summer approached, he had quadrupled his income, gotten a job he was much happier with, and things had dramatically improved. If you're a computer scientist/software engineer, being anywhere else is probably a mistake. The movie does a good job of depicting this as one of the Facebook co-founders chose to go to New York instead of moving out to Silicon Valley with everyone else.

Regardless, I thought the movie did do a good job of at least showing perl code. And seriously, I don't think it's any worse a portrayal of geeks/engineers than The Big Bang Theory. I would feel sorry for anyone who does become a computer scientist because of the parties as depicted in the movie though! I wouldn't call the movie a total waste of time, but I certainly wouldn't be as glowing about it as Scott Adams was. I'm glad I did not pay full price and saw it on a rainy day.

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