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The Twins

31 Jan, 2014

Winklevoss FeaturedToday I spent some time creating a newsline about Cameron & Tyler Winklevoss. One of the things I enjoy about making a newsline is it takes you in unexpected directions. I know very little about the brothers, but have an interest in Bitcoin, which they have invested in and are promoting heavily.

The brothers are most famous for their long fight with Facebook over that site’s founding, and for being played by Arnie Hammer in David Fincher’s The Social Network. I didn’t think much of that film, mainly because I thought Jesse Eisenberg played the role weirdly, all clipped and no emotion. I imagine he was playing to the ‘introverted genius nerd’ trope but in most pictures Mark Zuckerberg seems to be a rather smiley fellow, and it threw me. I’m not a fan of Adam Sorkin either. And boardroom battles work better in a book.

The well-known story is that the Winklevoss twins hired Zuckerberg to make their site and instead he brought out his own instead, which became Facebook. As I built the page at first it seemed that the Winklevosses were sore losers, but as more information emerged and was cross referenced their case took on more nuance. Instant messages released in 2010 threw a whole different light on the way events unfolded. But 2010’s information was not available when the twins settled with Facebook in 2007.

I read over 50 different news and magazine articles to make the twin’s newsline so far. As I read I noticed that each article is frozen in its time. Journalists writing in 2003 are amazed by the rapid growth of a new technology, but scramble to make sense of how it unfolded. Journalists writing later standardize the story and some important details get lost, especially when new information comes up. These articles are monuments to the past and we build on them.

By contrast each newsline is updated as new information becomes available. It lives as its subjects live, learning about what actually happened, sometimes only too late. What new secrets will be revealed tomorrow that will change our yesterdays?