Dan Phiffer Dan Phiffer builds websites, makes art, and teaches in NYC

How to look at the Chan Zuckerberg

Anil Dash wrote a very coherent critique of Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan’s initiative to use their wealth for good.

I do believe that Mark and Priscilla want to have a meaningful positive impact on the world, and I am unapologetically enthusiastic about the fact they’re articulating that vision in a way that will lead others. I am also grievously concerned about the greatest threat to those intentions: The culture of Silicon Valley. Many of the loudest, most prominent voices within the tech industry, people who have Zuckerberg’s ear, are already thoughtlessly describing smart critique of the Initiative as “hating”, absurdly dismissing legitimate concerns as jealousy.

Here’s the truth: No matter how good their intentions, the net result of most such efforts has typically been neutral at best, and can sometimes be deeply destructive. The most valuable path may well be to simply invest this enormous pool of resources in the people and institutions that are already doing this work (including, yes, public institutions funded by tax dollars) and trust that they know their domains better than someone who’s already got a pretty demanding day job.

As Anil said on Twitter, “the best thing they could do is listen to critics.”

See also: Zuckerberg: give your stocks to Facebook users, and from NY Times Dealbook, How Mark Zuckerberg’s Altruism Helps Himself


Zuckerberg: give your stocks to Facebook

You may have heard Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook, has promised to donate 99% of his stock in the company “to charity.” (It’s unclear what “charity” means precisely at this point, but one might want to look in the direction of Newark.)

Here is an interesting suggestion from Nathan Schneider, published today in America Magazine:

First, the stock could go back to the Facebook users who made it valuable in the first place. As I have noted here before, Facebook’s business model depends on gathering, mining and selling the personal information that its users post on the platform. That includes our networks of relationships, our photos, our worries, our milestones, our passions and our preferences. It’s barely understood what exactly Facebook knows about us and how, except that it’s a lot. This is part of what has made Mr. Zuckerberg so controversial, and rightly so; early on, he referred to his users as “dumb” (followed by a word even more insulting) for trusting him with such data. What if, rather than papering over that controversy, he could resolve it at the root?

Consider what it would mean if a substantial portion of Facebook stock were held in a trust that acts on behalf of the platform’s users. (This is a model I’m borrowing from the employee-owned John Lewis Partnership in the United Kingdom, explained in Marjorie Kelly’s extraordinary book Owning Our Future.) Users could then vote on what positions the trust should hold at shareholder meetings, and it could distribute dividends based on the stock’s value back to users, or reinvest them by buying more ownership in the company. The trust, therefore, would have a dual incentive: to protect user interests and privacy in Facebook’s business model, and to ensure that the company remains solvent.

The other suggestion, to sell the stocks and distribute the proceeds to every person alive, is also noteworthy, effectively saying: “Do you really know better what to do with all that money than the collective wisdom of everyone on Earth combined?”

Link via Caroline

Gizmodo will pay you for photos of Mark

Mat Honan:

Two years ago, Mark Zuckerberg told startup publicist Mike Arrington that “people have really gotten comfortable not only sharing more information and different kinds, but more openly and with more people. That social norm is just something that has evolved over time.”

Facebook has evolved over time too. No longer privately held, it is itself a public company, with a public CEO. We think it’s time he evolves along with his company. In short, it’s time for Mark to go public too.

Here’s the deal: We’re going to pay for photos and videos of Mark Zuckerberg taken between now and Labor Day. Snap a photo or shoot some video of Mark. At a bar, after a conference, on the street. Totally great. We want pictures of him that he isn’t expecting to have made. If we run it, we’ll send you a cool $20.

I’m going to go out on a limb and say $20 is low compared to standard paparazzi rates. This reminds me a little of Rob Cockerham’s paparazzi contest, which was great fun to participate in.