World makers, social network makers, ask one question first: How can I do it? Zuckerberg solved that one in about three weeks. The other question, the ethical question, he came to later: Why? Why Facebook? Why this format? Why do it like that? Why not do it another way? The striking thing about the real Zuckerberg, in video and in print, is the relative banality of his ideas concerning the “Why” of Facebook. He uses the word “connect” as believers use the word “Jesus,” as if it were sacred in and of itself: “So the idea is really that, um, the site helps everyone connect with people and share information with the people they want to stay connected with….” Connection is the goal. The quality of that connection, the quality of the information that passes through it, the quality of the relationship that connection permits—none of this is important. That a lot of social networking software explicitly encourages people to make weak, superficial connections with each other (as Malcolm Gladwell has recently argued 1 ), and that this might not be an entirely positive thing, seem to never have occurred to him.
The benefits of participation in the Berkeley Prize are extraordinary, not only for those students who receive an award. Involvement in the program catalyzes all students to explore their design ethics, ideas for addressing social and environmental challenges, and hopes for the future. Throughout this process, students are encouraged to clearly articulate their professional goals and identify their personal paths forward. Not surprisingly, many have gone on to have profound impact on people and places, through their activism and practice.