Saturday, November 27, 2010

Coffee & Vodka


There is a time and a place for each.  In a casual setting, amongst friends, the latter is socially acceptable.  But you most likely won’t see a bottle of Grey Goose on my desktop come Monday morning. 

Maybe it’s our ingrained, Protestant work ethic that has lead to our discriminatory segregation of business and pleasure.  Regardless, the corporate world has a couple injunctions against such coalescence: one, it’s bad; and, two, don’t do it. 

Mark Zuckerberg may be underestimating the extent to which executives (i.e., the people in charge of shaping and defining the image of the company and, thus, of hiring) adhere to this principle.  For someone whose net worth increases with every wall post, who can blame him.  Yet, as a purveyor of image, Mr. Zuckerberg might be expected to be a bit more in tune with such sentiments. 

But it is a curious question as to whether or not Zuckerberg will be able to translate his dominance of social media into email market shares.  John R. Quain points out a number of obstacles to such a hostile, communications takeover by Zuckerberg and the Facebook machine.  For one thing, he makes reference to “the company’s on-again-off-again privacy and security problems.”  He also talks about how an integration of email with Facebook’s existent chat, text-messaging, and status update features could simply overwhelm users.  Yet he does not make mention of the professional stigma associated with an @facebook.com email address, which seems to be the most logical point of criticism against successful expansion.

In many ways, Mark Zuckerberg is to be admired.  He certainly has a vision.  But, more than that, he is something of a mass-culture avant-gardist, trying to free communication from its rusty, chastity belt.  There is something lovably irreverent in his denunciation of email as “too formal.”  But, as with all avant-garde movements, there must always stand some collective in moral opposition to them.  That collective is the business world.  And since they are the ones who have resisted professionally a trend towards open communication by retreating to the confines of email, they are the ones who must be converted to Zuckerberg’s way of thinking.  While the CEO’s of this world may update their status’s with as much frequency as they make phone calls, I just don’t think they’re ready to recognize Farmville as a legitimate place of residence.   

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