Tuesday, February 4, 2014
February 4, 2014
February 4, 2014
I got a message from Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook fame, that I should come up north to meet him to discuss the possibility of using me as a writer for a new Facebook concept called “Paper.” I immediately arranged a flight, and went to his campus like office. What surprised me the most is that his office is small, and it seems he didn’t have a table to work on.
When I walked in he was watching Ferand Léger’s film “Ballet Méchanique, ” on a giant screen TV which I found odd and slightly off-putting. He got up to shake my hand, and told me that he has a hard time following straight narratives, so he prefers experimental or artistic films. We took a place on his couch and we both watched the silent film together. While the images were in front of me, he told me that he really admired my series of journals that I have been posting on Facebook. He wanted to know if I would be interested in working with him on his new project “Paper.” Since I was basically unemployed, and going slowly broke, I said sure. It was at that point he turned around to face me directly. He told me that Facebook is basically a landscape where things can happen, but now with “Paper” he wants programming and written out narratives for the site.
For instance, he was fascinated how people on Facebook were reacting to the Woody Allen case. Most probably consider this to be an old case and who cares at this point and time. Alas, this is wrong, because a typical citizen of Facebook is very much concerned with the world around them, but they need that ‘world’ to be defined, or package in a way for people to address that specific narrative. Or if it doesn’t have a narrative, then it must have one attached to the piece. Another example is the unfortunate death of Philip Seymour Hoffman. Here’s a tragic incident where a very talented actor dies before his time, but alas, there is a narrative in the works here as well. People are under a strong opinion that he should have done something besides being a junkie. Even though the story is not finalized, individuals are already putting their own narrative to his death. So many issues involved here. The never-ending process to sobriety, which is odd enough, because the very word ‘sober’ has a meaning of being serious, sensible, and solemn. Which is nothing wrong with that, but shouldn’t there be a much better term to express fun, adventure, and enlightenment without getting smashed?
Mark and I looked back at the screen. It’s funny thinking back that both of us while talking we were mostly looking at the movie instead of each other. In a nutshell, Mark asked me to go through the stories of the day, and re-write them in a more entertaining style or a narrative where there is a beginning, a middle, and the end. Mark told me “Shit happens, but not on Facebook Tosh.”
I told him I’ll take the job. He said cool and then called his secretary in. She entered the office and introduced herself to me, without waiting for Mark to make the actual introductions. “My name is Joan Vollmer, and I will be assisting you while you work on this project.” I said goodbye to Mark, and then Joan led me to my office, which like Mark’s office didn’t have a work table. What I did have was a giant screen TV, with a DVD package near it. It was Marcel L’Herbier’s “I’Inhumaine, ” another silent film.
Joan said that she has been with Facebook for 10 years, and before that she was married to a writer in Mexico. When she left the office, I put on the L’Herbier film and wondered what my life is going to be like now.