When Tim Hwang first came up with the idea for a Mark Zuckerberg-inspired digital magazine, he thought it was pretty funny.
Hwang, who lives in San Francisco and works in the tech industry, found himself routinely saving images of Facebook’s CEO to his phone, capturing what he called the “amazingly bizarre, kind of iconic” pictures that appeared in the media or on Zuckerberg’s own Facebook page.
When Hwang realized some of his friends were doing the same thing — Zuckerberg’s cross-country tour this year to “meet people in every state” has provided a lot of good material — he realized the images were good for more than just a laugh.
Zuckerberg’s larger-than-life celebrity and cult following, especially among Silicon Valley techies, gave Hwang an idea: He’s compiled a group essays analyzing the meaning of images featuring Zuckerberg, and will publish them in an upcoming digital magazine.
“Something about Zuck has always been more visual in nature,” Hwang said in an interview with Recode. “He’s sort of symbolic of the Valley at a particular moment in time.”
Hwang posted a call for entrees in July, and says he’s received between 60 and 70 submissions for the magazine, which will publish the best half dozen or so essays in early November. Some of the submissions focused on images you may have seen: young Zuckerberg sitting at a picnic table in front of a Stanford frat party; Zuckerberg strolling past the virtual reality army he’s helped create; Zuckerberg sweating profusely onstage at the D Conference in 2010.
The interest was much higher than Hwang initially anticipated — he’s already considering a second publication, an art gallery, or even a short coffee table book.
“[People are] taking these particularly images and using them as kind of jumping off points to talk about bigger issues,” Hwang said. “Many people are taking a sort of art critique to it.”
In many ways, Zuckerberg has become the face of Silicon Valley. Facebook touches more than 2 billion users a month and his travels have taken on a presidential flair. The fact that he’s inspiring art, and not just satire or jokes, is more proof that Zuckerberg’s cultural influence is more powerful than anyone could have imagined even just a few years ago.