Academics search for meaning in images of Mark Zuckerberg

The first edition of essays to examine ways Mark Zuckerberg has been depicted in mass media is now available. Released online today, the California Review of Images and Mark Zuckerberg contains a collection of writing dedicated to analysis of depictions of Facebook’s CEO either by news media, Facebook, or Zuckerberg himself at various stages in his life in the public eye.

Essays included in the first edition include “Neocolonial Intimacies,” a look back at an awkward hug between Zuckerberg and Indian prime minister Narendra Modi; and “Mark Zuckerberg’s Significant Insignificance,” a breakdown of Zuckerberg’s early Facebook profile photo. There’s also an essay that dives into this cringe-inducing, sweaty 2010 interview with Kara Swisher and Walt Mossberg.

Authors whose work was included in the publication were paid a $300 stipend. A symposium for further examination of essays in the first edition of California Review of Images and Mark Zuckerberg may be held in San Francisco in early 2018, creator and editor Tim Hwang told VentureBeat in a phone interview.

Hwang made the publication in his free time, but his day job is director of the Ethics and Governance of AI Initiative, a $27 million venture to support research and projects that propel AI for the public good. From 2015 to 2017, Hwang served as AI and ML lead for Google’s public policy team.

Since Hwang floated the idea of the publication in a Medium post in late summer, much of the news surrounding Facebook has dealt with Russia meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

“We’re coming at this at kind of a strange time,” Hwang said. “We’ve had a call for more people who want to write articles, so we might very well do a Volume Two.”

As one of the best known people alive today, other examinations of Zuckerberg imagery could explore hacker-punk Zuckerberg, a deeper dive into his 50-state U.S. tour that convinced many he may run for president, or Zuckerberg in augmented reality, like his recent virtual tour of hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico that raised some eyebrows.

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