After The Social Network, 5 geek stories Hollywood should tackle

In my opinion, The Social Network is a great movie. Director David Fincher has cleverly taken Aaron Sorkin’s screenplay and converted it into a riveting drama which highlights the rise of Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook, the world’s most popular social network. Zuckerberg is portrayed as an eccentric genius, a geek in every sense of the word, complete with social inadequacies and a train-smash relationship with his girlfriend, Erica Albright. But gone are the days when rejection meant going out, getting hammered and punching someone random in the nose and then waking up with the worst hangover ever. No. Geeks, it seems, handle rejection very, very differently.

The movie makes it hard not to like Zuckerberg, despite his cold, somewhat unnerving psychosis. Of course, as the tagline says, “You don’t get 500 million friends without making a few enemies.” The central theme of the story is Zuckerberg’s relationship with his best friend and partner, Eduardo Saverin, (brilliantly portrayed by Andrew Garfield) as well as the legal battle with ConnectU founders Divya Narendra and Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss who claim that he stole the idea of Facebook from them. It’s a riveting drama.

After the movie, I pondered the plausibility of which other social networks, popular websites or internet phenomena would make for a really entertaining movie experience. Here are my picks of five that may actually work.

1. The Techcrunch Story
Michael Arrington is a name that has become synonymous with technology bloggers all over the world. He is the founder and co-editor of Techcrunch, a blog covering startups in and around Sillicon Valley and the U.S.A and he has been named as one of the most powerful and influential men on the internet by top magazines Time, Wired and Forbes. His website is also ranked second on Technorati and first in the Info/ Tech category.

The Story:
So why would the Techcrunch Story make for an entertaining movie? Well, Arrington’s had his fair share of drama. First there was that whole Crunchpad debacle last year which saw what possibly could have been the precursor to the iPad, the most popular tablet PC on market, fall into a deadpool due to legal disputes over intellectual property with fellow development studio Fusion Garage.

Three days prior to the ill-fated Crunchpad launch and following several delays, Fusion Garage CEO Chandra Rathakrishnan informed Arrington that they would proceed with selling the pad alone. Arrington filed several lawsuits against his former business partners. The subsequent litigation included lawsuits accusing Fusion Garage of fraud and deceit, misappropriation of business ideas, breach of fiduciary and more. The Crunchpad went on to become the JooJoo and was eventually released but was overshadowed by Apple’s iPad and thus remains one of those devices that very well ‘could-have-been’.

Furthermore and fairly recently, former Techcrunch50 Events partner Jason Calacanis is threatening to sue the company after demanding proceeds from its sale to AOL. The Calacanis story gets even more interesting with the rumors he spread about Arrington’s supposed drug abuse and dark, messy personal life.

Why it works
It’s basically The Social Network equivalent, only not quite Harvard (expect to see less gratuitous sorority girls in skimpy underwear and more up-end executive types with cooler demeanour). The story pans out in basically the same way with lots of courtroom drama and possibly an action sequence involving a Crunchpad and a fairly hard surface. Is it watchable? Definitely. Will I pay to watch it? If the drab dull corporate hostilities are given a sexier edge, then yes.

2. Twitter: The Movie
The world’s most popular micro-blogging service had its humble beginnings as an SMS-based social network. It was envisioned by Jack Dorsey and fellow Odeo teammates over a lunch meeting in a park. Along with fellow founders Biz Stone and Evan Williams, Dorsey’s twttr (as it was initially called) was simply a communication service that allowed people to tell each other what they were doing in 140 characters.

The popularity of the service really took off at the SxSW music festival in August 2006 where clever marketing of Twitter streams on plasma screens saw the usage increase from 20 000 to 60 000. And from there on, Twitter’s growth and success story reads like every business owner’s island vacation.

The Story:
It’s a known fact that the initial Odeo lunch meeting was had over Mexican food and, as with all good movies that begin with Mexican food, this one is bound to be a comedy of sorts. The bromance between the Twitter founders @jack, @biz and @ev would make for excellent viewing.

Throw in a few crazy parties, the unusual anti-corporate development of Twitter, a few more crazy parties, and a guy from Berkley who gets arrested and then later freed by the Egyptian mustachioed police.

Sounds like your typical 21st century feel-good buddy comedy, with crazy parties, a downtime whale, some attempted hacking, a statement from a certain African politician calling for the ‘closer’ of Twitter and cameos by lots of celebs. Of course everyone speaks in only 140 characters or less.

Why it works
Think of it as the Big Bang Theory meets creative innovative young entrepreneurs. Heck, they could even cast Jim Parsons as Evan Williams and John Galecki as Biz Stone. Is it watchable? You bet. Would I pay to see it? Hell yeah.

3. The Youtube Phenomenon
There’s no denying the social impact that YouTube’s simple interface had for posting videos online. Formed in 2005 by former Paypal employees Chad Hurley, Steve Chen and Jawed Karim, YouTube has progressed so significantly that at any given minute, over 35 hours of content are being uploaded. It would take you over 600 years (and climbing) to watch all of the 120 000 000 (and climbing) videos on the site.

The Story
There’s already a Youtube parody video of the Social Network movie. It’s funny enough so I’m not going to add anything else. See below:

Why it works
If you’re not still laughing after that, then you’re either dead or catatonic. Will it work as a feature? Probably not. But a documentary on viral video. Think I could get into that.

4. Google 3D
The names Sergey Brin, Larry Page and Eric Schmidt are synonymous with the internet. Having formed Google in 1998, Brin and Page (and later on Schmidt) became the search engine moguls who have transformed the way people interact on the web. With over 10 000 employees worldwide, Google’s dominance in the cyber-sphere grows with each new product launch.

Google is rightfully on the list of Fortune’s top 100 companies to work for, having established itself as a brand that defines the entirety of our online experience. Without Google, the internet would simply not be the same.

The Story:
A fictionalised ‘action dramedy’ of sorts, but set in the now, as opposed to the standard ‘tell their story’ approach. We kick off with Jack Spratt, a budding young developer who desires nothing more than to work for Google. He develops some or other application which obviously uses the Google API to do something truly remarkable for society and gains the attention of Google’s top trio. Only, they don’t hire him.

Spratt is frustrated and furious, and in his retaliation he sows the seeds of a destructive and cataclysmic plan: To destroy Google. Expect to see loads of action, a car chase sequence, a shower scene, fake Gmail accounts and possibly a cameo from Mike Tyson as Spratt extracts his revenge by cleverly building a viral AI worm into his application.

He eventually succeeds and takes down the mighty Google…for a full 20 milliseconds, which costs them a billion dollars. Revenge is sweet.

Why it works
It’s a fun concept. Is it watchable? Could be, with the right talent involved. And we want it in 3D just to see the logo like it’s never been seen before.

5. The New Microsoft
I say the ‘new’ Microsoft, as we’ve already been exposed to movies depicting the early Bill Gates/ Apple shenanigans (see Pirates of Silicon Valley). But Microsoft has changed so much since then. For one, Mr Gates is hardly around to be of any real influence anymore. What we really want is the Ballmer story. ‘Bad boy Ballmer’ is the CEO of Microsoft. Known for his flamboyant stage appearances at Microsoft events, his eccentricity has spurned a new movement of viral videos. His biased views on open source software and foul-mouthed death threats to Google coupled with his chair throwing antics and temperamental attitude proves that real people, not robotic drones with no hint of emotion, can actually run companies.

With the release of Windows 7, the veil of shame has been lifted off the venereal Vista and Ballmer has again restored the end-users faith in Windows.

The Story:
Grouchy Ballmer makes for excellent subject matter. Perhaps it’s an animated feature, maybe even Pixar’s next big venture. It could detail his early life, as the balding smart kid who everyone avoids in the playground, all the way through his eventual rise in the corporate world. Maybe he had a girlfriend. Maybe she dumped him and got a chair thrown in her general direction. Pitch it as the Grinch meets Microsoft or Despicable Steve.

Include a few musical numbers with his stage appearances (think: “Developers, developers, developers…” but to the tune of Shakira’s loca) and you have the makings of the geek holiday movie that’s probably not for kids or anyone who doesn’t quite find humor in parody.

Why it works
Okay, so it doesn’t. And probably never will. Although, if someone actually went through all the time and effort to do a CGI Ballmer biopic, I’d probable reserve my movie tickets months in advance.



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