12 Burning Questions for Twitter Co-Founders

Williams: There's some fundamentalism at how the relationships are formed. Facebook is very, very good at mapping real-world connections among people and that's kind of what they talk about doing, and those connections are two-way. So in the real world I don't know Bizz if he doesn't know me, there's people you know of and maybe are fans of but Facebook doesn't really facilitate that type of info exchange. And what Twitter does is allows you to tap into info sources, and so Twitter is really more about keeping up on what's happening with things you care about. Some subset of that is your friends and family, that's perhaps the most interesting thing, to get the buzz in your pocket to see what this other person is doing. But a lot of Twitter today are news sources, celebs, or some event that is happening in the world, and you want to see what people are saying about it. The attacks in Mumbai, the Super Bowl or the Oscars, and it doesn't matter -- in fact it would be limiting to say, 'I only want to see what my friends are saying about that.' I want to see what people on the scene are saying about that or what the global pulse is about this event. And it's all stripped down to that, and it's very, it's more informational than just communication.

Donvan: Who were your early adopters, where were they and how did they find each other? How did people figure out that you were out there?

Stone: I would say it started with the blogging world actually. And because Twitter has been called microblogging by a lot of people because structurally, it's very similar to blogging. If you understand blogging, then you understand Twitter. And we sort of have been playing in that world for a long time, so I feel like a lot of it was actually driven from our own personal connections, which involved a lot of bloggers especially in the technology world. So they very quickly understood it even when it was very primitive, and I would say it's still primitive in terms of ease of use and getting into it. But that early adopter crowd was able to accept those limitations at first and it quickly spread and of course bloggers sort of have their own megaphones, that when they started using it, they amplified it's growth by talking about it on their blogs. And so that was the first real substantial community that got on.

Donvan: Some Twitterers spend so much time Twittering -- when do they live? Where do they draw the line?

Williams: I think all technologies, especially technologies that connect people and sometimes give them the rush of getting feedback from around the world, it can be addictive. But, and there's lots of social networks where people spend hours a day. And it's a little bit ironic because I know [Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey] has talked about the idea coming from AIM with status messages, and him having this desire to connect while away from the computer. It was partially driven by that desire to get away from the computer and be out there in the world doing things but still have this connection. But I think inevitably you're going get people who get really sucked in and spend a lot of time on it.

Donvan: What has really caught you by surprise?

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