Mark Zuckerberg has made a lot of money convincing people that they should contribute to a public, permanent record of everything they've ever said or done. Now, in a project that can only be described as the most poetic of justice, everything that Mark Zuckerberg has ever said is going to be available, for scrutiny, in one location.
A new digital archive called The Zuckerberg Files is attempting to be "a digital archive of all public utterances of Facebook's founder and CEO, Mark Zuckerberg." As of right now, the archive contains over 100 full-text transcripts and 50 video clips from a variety of sources, including "blog posts, letters to shareholders, media interviews, public appearances and product presentations, and quotes in other sources."
Why do we need The Zuckerberg Files? It's all about forming a better dialogue about privacy and better understanding the Facebook CEO, apparently:
"The dominance of social networking sites, such as Facebook, in contemporary life sparks unique issues of information privacy and the ethics of sharing online. By gaining a better understanding of how Facebook’s founder and CEO conceives of his own company’s role in the policy and ethical debates surrounding social networking, we will be better suited to critically engage in a dialogue on privacy and Facebook, inform design and policy recommendations, and increase user awareness and literacy," says the project's administrator, University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Information Studies' Michael Zimmer, PhD.
Although the rationale given for why a database like The Zuckerberg Files even needs to exists doesn't take any shots at Zuckerberg for destroying everyone else's privacy or anything, The Verge points out that the project's creator once co-authored a stinging op-ed that criticized the company for the way they handle users' private information.
"Facebook follows the pattern of taking two steps forward with an aggressive misuse of personal information and creeping back the slightest bit once the criticisms emerged. Each time, Facebook promised users that 'we will keep listening,' and artfully reminding us that all they really want to do is make 'the world more open and connected,'" he wrote back in 2010 on The Huffington Post.
Sure it's about research - but something about it just feels like it has a hint of comeuppance attached. For one of the most powerful tech figures on the planet - one that has made billions out of the idea that users are in fact, the product - there needs to be a place where everything he's ever said can be combed through and scrutinized. Why not? To borrow a sentiment usually reserved for people who post dumb stuff on Facebook, "well, if you didn't want people to see it, then you shouldn't have made it public."
Not that Mark Zuckerberg is known for major public gaffes or anything, but it's interesting that a guy who's done more than anyone in recent memory to tear down privacy walls now has an entire archive devoted to the idea that nothing he has ever said will be able to fall through the cracks.
One final note - you're probably not going to be able to access The Zuckerberg Files.
"The Zuckerberg Files is an open-access public archive. All bibliographic and metadata are openly available. In adherence with the "Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Scholarly Research in Communication", access to the full-text transcripts and archived video files is limited to scholars doing research in a relevant area."
Yeah, you have to request access. Bummer, right?
Images via Josh Wolford, The Zuckerberg Files