It was a quintessential David and Goliath scene: not one but two classically handsome twin brothers, resplendent with definitive Aryan features, 6‘5’’ athletic statures and a fittingly WASPy-sounding last name towering above the scrawny nerdy-looking Jewish kid wearing a Gap hoodie. Except the two Goliaths were asking David for programming help.
The phenomenon known as “The Facebook Movie” is just one of the symbolic dominoes falling in a series of events that all point in the direction of a seismic shift in power dynamics of our culture. Move over jocks, brawn is now measured by keystrokes.
Justin Timberlake playing Sean Parker in a major Hollywood film is as a big of a deal as Google engaging in diplomacy talks with China, controversy arising over group of Silicon Valley VC’s having a “secret” meeting in a private room of San Francisco wine bar, and a Kansas-based mutual fund company using a computer algorithm that ends up bringing down the entire stock market. We’re not talking about Wall Street or Washington, DC or even LA. Silicon Valley, a metonym for American high-tech, represents the new paradigm of living, where our online activities are just as real as our “IRL” activities. And they’re just as powerful, if not more.
All of it rings with a tenor of ironic charm. Like the kid in high school, the one scrawnier than the rest, wearing glasses, eating alone at the lunch table, and getting picked on mercilessly by a student body that values everything xe is not – that kid can bring down your server, hack into your accounts, and basically wreak havoc on your life. That kid is the next Mark Zuckerberg and belongs to an imposing consortium of humans – the technology geekhood.
The pioneers and architects of our online world are the gatekeepers and keyholders of our real life world. One can imagine a future in which the most prestigious clubs in the world are not predicated on family pedigree, social charm, athletic prowess or even basic good looks or wealth, but the ability to “get root access to a Python webserver, expose its SSL encryption and intercept all traffic over its secure port” – all while doing shots.
So the question is not whether the geeks will inherit the earth but rather now that the day has come, what does our future look like? Once we’re all connected, networked and dialed-in, does humanity fare for the better or for the worse? Will the geeks blow their inheritance or build a better world?