Twitter: We Gave You the Heads Up in May 2007!

If you're a luddite who isn't interested in twittering about your commute or heading out for pizza, you're missing the point. Failing to Twitter is like refusing to believe that TV had a future. Twitter is a new communications medium, and if you're ignoring it, you're missing your best opportunity to stay in touch with your friends, family, company, industry, nation, world and universe. In May 2007, we gave our readers a heads up preview of what Twitter was to become, featuring an exclusive interview with Twitter founder Biz Stone. In case you weren’t paying attention, we’re reprinting it here. Orignally published: May 23, 2007

Twitter is the widget du jour. At the recent South by Southwest conference the Technorati simultaneously embraced the platform while trumpeting its arrival en masse. The service is a micro-blogging platform that moves us beyond RSS. Via a range of platforms (Web, SMS, and soon chat and email) one person is transformed into a publisher or broadcaster. Conversely, you can subscribe to a network of friends or a public figure like Barack Obama to receive periodic updates.

VNU's BuzzMetrics tracks consumer attention in all its glory; Twitter is certainly on its radar. VP Marketing Max Kalehoff, terms the service "new and dynamic" with the caveat that as platforms do come and go, it's premature to pass judgment on Twitter. That said, Kalehoff indicated that BuzzMetrics' chief computer scientist thought highly enough of the platform to invite its founders to keynote a recent conference.

Twitter comes with a pedigree. Its founders created blogging platform Xanga, worked on Blogger, which Google acquired in 2003, and created podcast aggregator Odeo. Co-founder Biz Stone, in an exclusive interview with Jack Myers Media Business Report, attests that usability was Job Number One. "Early on in the process we decided that we wanted our API to be accessible to even beginner developers and for it to be device agnostic. Of our users we would ask just one question: 'What are you doing?"' And for validation on Twitter's usability, there's no higher blessing than high marks from Jakob Nielsen who recently gave it an "A" (as opposed to MySpace's C-) for being "focused on the core functionality of the service."

Stone believes that Twitter has taken off like a rocket because it coincides with the trend for more open and transparent communication. On Twitter he has observed a few brands not only broadcasting (FoxNews and BBC Persia) but engaging, like Delta Airlines. While some might characterize Twitter as a disruptive technology, it is at the same time an unmediated pulse check.


Earlier this spring Twitter sponsored a behind-the-scenes at the Oscars. Soon after, the director of Fox' Drive twittered during the show's premiere. Stone found that the platform "creates a compelling connection between you and the people behind a show without taking you out of it." And when the show is off, say after all of the season finales, it keeps the universe of the show in the forefront. Stone gave kudos to Heroes and its Web presence, but still saw a place for Twitter. For the fan, "you are going about your business, multi-tasking. It's almost ambient."


Stone is quick to assert that "We are not building a tool for marketers. A tipping point is when users find a good use - not when marketers find it useful." That said, as the culture moves away from private e-mail (IM has already overtaken it) he envisions a path for Twitter, "providing marketers some infrastructure for creating their economies." It's still nascent but he has already seen among Twitterers that the phenomenon of crowdsourcing has morphed into friendsourcing. Sort of a mashup of Linked In and craigslist.

Just-in-Time Content

Corey Clayton, the former online journalist for the Lancaster News Era, believes that Twitter is the perfect solution for an editor trying to keep track of reporters in the field. One can imaging that Twitter - which has already been deployed in the emergency response field - is perfect for breaking news, from market closings to jury verdicts. While Twitter has had to grapple with a 140-character limit, it was wise enough to build in support for tinyurl – a service that creates an alias for a long url.

Data mining

Fans have built Twitterfan, a Wiki that is both a depository and a forum. And, due to Twitter's simplicity, there has been a rush to create Twitter enhancements. One that should have allure to marketers is Twitterment, created by eBiquity Research Group. It effectively weaponizes Twitter, turning it into a formidable buzz tracker, even creating on-the-fly visual representation. In seconds I can compare the buzz between Heroes and 24 (finding: 24 can't hold a candle). For those who worry about their privacy, Twitter has a "Protect My Updates" box that opts out posting in the public timeline.

And just how will Twitter turn a profit? As the marketplace has embraced SMS, Twitter promises to further imprint texting into the global psyche (35 percent of its market is international) and Biz reports that Twitter is "pushing forward directly with relationships with cell phone carriers."

Twitter's community is passionate. Out of the box it has the brand love we see among Apple users, in Mini-Cooper drivers. Traditional publishers who are breaking news and offering unique content (E!'s critic Kristin Veitch twittered during the Upfronts) will ultimately attract the most "followers" and the news cycle, if Twitter takes hold, could evolve from 24/7 to 60/60 - as in minutes and seconds.

Information Week recently compared Twitter with seven other competing services, giving Twitter the thumbs up for ease of use. The magazine also singled out Swarm-it! as the most business grade application, with the best tools for collaboration. While Twitter is deliberately too limited in scope to answer everyone's needs, its breakout success will enable innovation, much of it by users.

For further information about Twitter contact co-founder Biz Stone at For information about BuzzMetrics, contact Max Kalehoff at

To communicate with or to be contacted by the executives and/or companies mentioned in this column, link to the JackMyers Connection Hotline.


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