The past several days have been wild. Early last week we watched Mark Zuckerberg's surreal testimony on Capitol Hill. Then on Saturday morning, U.S. military forces teamed up with their counterparts from the UK and France to bomb poison gas facilities in Syria.
Facebook's problems and the bombings in Syria are inescapable reminders of how much technology permeates and dominates the global culture. Today, everything we do involves some kind digital tech. Even events that seem unconnected share common tools, techniques and technologies.
Listening to Zuckerberg trying to explain Facebook's business model to a panel of uncomprehending lawmakers left many of us shaking our heads in disbelief. Watching the Pentagon press briefing after our missiles knocked out their targets in Syria left us wondering what would happen next in that turbulent part of the world.
From my perspective, the most troubling part of Zuckerberg's appearance in Washington was the absence of any serious probing by the lawmakers, who evidently could not understand how a giant social network like Facebook makes money. Some of the questions were clearly crafted to embarrass Zuckerberg, but Facebook itself emerged unscathed.
The bombings in Syria were far more damaging. Coordinated strikes reportedly destroyed three facilities, crippling Syria's ability to deploy chemical weapons. The strikes themselves were miracles of careful planning and precise execution. To minimize collateral damage and unnecessary civilian casualties, the strikes took place at 4 a.m. Damascus time. It was still night, but all the missiles found their targets, thanks to multiple layers of advanced digital technologies.
These are strange times we live in. I'm still convinced that now is the best time to be a technology leader. But somehow it feels as though the stakes are higher than they were a couple of weeks ago. I'm not worried about the stock markets. I called the bottom and I'm confident that we'll see a good stretch of solid growth. I'm also highly confident in our military's ability to protect our interests at home and abroad.
Facebook is another story. Zuckerberg's ambiguous testimony was not helpful. Whether he accepts it or not, Facebook has become responsible for safeguarding the personal information of its 2.2 billion users. Zuckerberg proved last week that he's smarter than many of our lawmakers. But he didn't prove that we should trust him. That's a problem.