A few months back on the 19th of November 2009 NESTA, as part of their Silicon Valley comes to the UK sequence of events, televised a discussion called “Social Media: A Force for Good?“. The panel was our very own national treasure, actor, QI master and twitterphile Stephen Fry, Biz Stone the Founder and Chief Executive of Twitter, and Reid Hoffman the Founder and Chief Executive of LinkedIn (you can see what they said below). The proceedings were moderated by NESTA’s own Chief Executive Jonathan Kestenbaum, and in his introduction he said:
“It feels like there was never a world before Twitter”
Well 4 years ago today, this was the first ever tweet from Jack Dorsey (via Mashable):
As Biz Stone alludes to in the NESTA session, the idea of using some form of SMS messaging between groups came out of a brainstorming session while they were all working on something else that wasn’t going so well for ODEO. At first they dropped the vowels from the name in common with a trend for web 2.0 services started by Flickr. Today four years ago was when they started testing, and then they launched the service publicly in July 2006. Wikipedia tells us that:
“In October 2006, Biz Stone, Evan Williams, Dorsey, and other members of Odeo formed Obvious Corporation and acquired Odeo and all of its assets – including Odeo.com and Twitter.com – from the investors and other shareholders. Twitter later spun off into its own company in April 2007.”
I joined the Twitter party relatively early myself on Valentine’s Day, 14 February 2007, when it was only loved by a few. The real break came just a short while later at 2007’s South by South West conference. Twitter set up two 60 inch plasma screens in the hallways and conference goers started using Twitter as the unofficial conference back channel. The SXSW buzz tripled usage from 20,000 tweets a day to 60,000 so that things really started to gain ground, and the community started to evolve new uses for the service.
So where are we at today?:
- Twitter just passed 50 million tweets per day
- Every TV News service mentions it regularly and has several Twitter identities
- Most radio programmes have a Twitter identity, along with most of the presenters
- There are many well documented uses of Twitter in emergencies, for protests, or in politics
- Twitter the company still haven’t sorted out and made public their business model, although moves are afoot
- Even if Twitter makes a miss step with their business model and alienates the user community somehow (maybe with unwanted advertising or something), the concept of group micro-blogging is firmly accepted. Most social media and enterprise 2.0 products have either developed or incorporated it already, or it is in their product roadmap.
- Twitter is regularly used or being discussed for use as a business communication channel as part of a company’s marketing and/or service strategy – it’s now a standard ingredient of any social media strategy.
Have a listen to that NESTA discussion – as well as some great discussion on whether social media can be a force for good, you’ll get some insight in to the thinking of Biz Stone, the founder: Social Media: A Force for Good?
So much has happened in the 4 years since that first Tweet, and Twitter only became a company in its own right 3 years ago next month. Another example of how fast this world and the Information Age is moving.