Watching “The Social Network” was a strange experience for me. During the times that the Sorkin obviously tried to lose the average viewer in “technobabble“:
I understood all of that. The world of web development is truly insane. I’m sure I would be just as lost during a biology or chemistry babbling session, but this one happens to be the world I belong to.
I’m not writing this to brag – just to share that the movie hit very close to home for me. Even now I’m sitting in front of my computer, working on a PHP project in Apache (the same technologies that powered the early versions of Facebook). My resume says “Web Application Developer” at the top. I make things like facebook for a living.
The keyboard they use in that scene is the one that I brought in to class to share – the IBM model M.
Language and Culture
Any culture is going to have its own in-jokes and words. For a traditional religious example, I still don’t know what a catechism is (but it sounds dangerous). Web developers have this effect amplified by their very nature – creating things to share on the internet. A new word, phrase, name, or technology that makes it to the top of Hacker News or Reddit can quickly be assimilated into the language of other developers. In any field, it’s important to stay on top of the current language and culture, doubly so in the fast-moving world of web development. Click on the “truly insane” link up above and you’ll get an example of what I mean.
Because of the reliance on computers, technobabble for programmers becomes even more cryptic. 13375p34k, though a relic of the 90s, is still understood by any hacker worth their salt. Even the word “hacker” has a different meaning in the tech community (and that meaning is hotly contested).
The craziest thing about the whole Facebook debacle lawsuit thing, is that I have been there before. My friend Alex and I put up a site online that let you google 4 things at once. We called it “googlegooglegooglegoogle.com”, bought the domain name, and within 2 days had gone viral, thanks to an anonymous post on MyLifeIsAverage.
And by viral, I mean 1.5 million pageviews over two months. About 50k users, if I remember correctly. Gizmodo wrote an article about us, Huffington Post wrote one, MakeUseOf.com gave us a link, and we even had an Urban Dictionary definition.
Then we got a cease and desist from Google, and in 7 days they took our domain name and shut us down. We were both pretty upset about it, but hey, it’s not every day you make Google feel threatened.
That’s why Facebook hits really close to home for me. Hopefully I’m not an asshole like Zuckerberg is portrayed as in the movie.
“You know who knows about web development? Spiders.” — Evan Conway