With “Avatar” and Facebook both falling into the category of Things That Will Not Be Going Away Anytime Soon Much As We Might Wish It, it seems fitting that they’re both in the news (well, “news”) for similar reasons today. James Cameron has continued his 3D crusade, though he’s upped the ante a bit, telling a technology conference in South Korea that 3D will be the default standard in under 25 years, 2D the novelty. The AP report states that Cameron intends to personally dedicate himself to bringing about this glorious future, remaking the world in his own image.
Meanwhile, as people worry about privacy on Facebook, the social networking site’s founder Mark Zuckerberg is having his old IMs leaked to exhibit his college-era disdain for privacy. The real money quote regarding the leak comes from Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg (from the forthcoming “The Facebook Effect”): “Mark really does believe very much in transparency and the vision of an open society and open world, and so he wants to push people that way. […] He hopes you’ll get more open, and he’s kind of happy to help you get there. So for him, it’s more of a means to an end.”
Zuckerberg, like Cameron, has a touch of the self-made megalomaniac in his personality, earned somewhat by permanently changing the Internet in making it perfectly normal for people to have a clean, non-cluttered way to get at least a superficial read on people they’d just met. But whereas Zuckerberg’s ambition to create an open society is unnecessary if not implausible since it’s largely built upon vapid information via lists, blurbs and quotes online, employing current technology as a means to an (overblown) end, Cameron’s vision for how the virtual and real worlds should be intertwined is in accordance with technology’s inevitable onward march and his prophecies are given credence by the financial success of “Avatar.”
The fuss about Facebook seems slightly overstated — in the CNN story linked above, it’s telling that Facebook user Sam Schreiber panics over something as innocuous as when one of her friends found out that she likes New Found Glory — which is why there’s something ultimately more disturbing about the real world consequences of Cameron’s embrace of an all-3D future, not the least of which is his attempt to write off the 20th century as cinematic pre-history this quick. (Of course, the tension between technologically-driven movies promoting the death of technology doesn’t faze Cameron at all: “Avatar” may advocate going back to the land, but the director apparently feels massive manufacturing of 3D TVs will help save the planet.) Granted, neither Zuckerberg or Cameron would be where they are without thinking big, but their shared desire to shape the future by rewriting the past is troubling.
[Photos: “Avatar,” 20th Century Fox, 2009; 3D Car via Wikimedia Commons, 2003, photographed by Alan Silliphant.]