12 Burning Questions for Twitter Co-Founders

"Nightline" correspondent John Donvan spoke with Twitter co-founders Biz Stone and Evan Williams, two of the masterminds behind the tweeting phenomenon. Below, find out how it all started and the surprises they experienced along the way. (This interview transcript has been edited slightly for clarity.)

John Donvan: How is Twitter different than blogging?

Biz Stone: I think of Twitter first as a communication network that has very social elements to it. And certainly blogging, or microbologging is a use in the case of Twitter. For people who are used to blogging to go ahead and write smaller blog posts, I think it works for that perfectly, but I think that there are a lot of cases where you're not really blogging. You're trying to organize a quick meeting among friends at a bar at 6 tonight and it's 5:30, so you send out a Twitter message to everyone saying, "I'm here, who's with me?" That's not blogging, that's communication.

Donvan: You've kind of created almost a new reason to communicate, in addition to a new format for it, and it's not one that anybody needed before because we would have created it a long time ago in some fashion, but now that it's created people are really drawn to it.

Evan Williams: It's true it gives people freedom. And part of the reason -- we saw this with blogging, which we both worked on for a number of years -- when blogs first arrived there was a lot of the same response at first, which was why should people care what I am going to say or why would pollute the Web with that, or, I have e-mail -- if I want to tell people something I will just e-mail them. When you flip it around, though, and make it up to the reader, the recipient, whether or not they want to tune into this info, it gives the author much more freedom to express themselves because they are not imposing on people. It's actually less presumptuous than to bump into a friend and tell them anything because they have to sit there and be polite. With Twitter anyone can turn it off.

Donvan: How are you not Facebook?

Stone: You are not responding to a request from someone else to be your friend, you are just finding sources of information on Twitter, whether it's me, Whole Foods, JetBlue, whatever it is. You are saying I want this information sent to me in real time, and there's a lot more to it than that but I think that's a big one.

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