“Hatching Twitter”: 4 Things I Didn’t Know About Twitter
I’m not an old person, yet the ever-present iron-ic taste of nostalgia in Bilton’s Hatching Twitter is evident even to me. He strings together a tale of four very different – and extremely human – threads: Biz, Jack, Ev and Noah, the founders of Twitter.
In a sense, Hatching Twitter is a yester-yesteryear book, because Twitter is *now*. Only Twitter can write about Twitter. A book’s too damn slow, Mr Bilton! Nonetheless, here’s 4 things that made me scribble fervently in the margins of that cellulose artifact:
#1 Back to Human Basics
As Noah sat in the car, the effects of vodka-red bull cocktails wearing off, he longed for his friends to be there to share the melancholy mood of the empty street. Oh, loneliness, that default human condition, thou art a heartless bitch! Turns out, this is how Twitter caught – eureka! A cure for feeling lonely!
Yet, if Twitter is supposedly such a fool proof remedy for someone like me, one of the lonesome generation who grew up staring into a screen – what happens when no one but the bots reply to your tweets?
#2 Cutting characters
It’s pointless for me to say the word ‘character’ and hope that you wouldn’t know what I’m talking about, isn’t it? Exactly! That’s how normal Twitter talk has become. Along with that – the 140 character curse.
Why were the initial ‘twitters’ 160 characters long? People who got their first phone *after* the year 2000 know.
You could only tweet via sms! Whoa! What? Whoa! Text-tweeting, clears up the previous question, but brings up so many more. How could you tweet without seeing other tweets – how could you interact with others – how – how – how?
You couldn’t. Welcome to history, a time with no smart phones.
However, the move to 140 characters would allow Twitter to include someone’s username in the text. Equal space for all and no more guess tweeting!
#3 More like <3
What the what?! One of the co-founders, Jack Dorsey, is one cute and faultful character. And I have a huge crush on him.
I mean – come on! He’s this genius programmer, who generated the initial idea behind Twitter. He loves to go to rave parties, meddles with feminism and anarchy, has kick-ass tattoos and is proud of his nose ring. And – I kid you not – he used to have blue dreadlocks and work as a nanny for an infant. At this point I’m already smitten.
As if this wasn’t enough, here’s what he suggested doing at the Twitter office:
Jack, if you’re reading this – marry me?
#4 Internal fail whale
‘Twitter is over capacity. Please wait a moment and try again…’ I would usually lose the patience after a couple of ‘refreshes’. But I had no idea there was such mayhem behind – inside – the fail whale.
Twitter had been born broken. Concocted in two weeks and held together by digital duck tape, the servers constantly kept crashing. The users were bitchy, while the employees had to pull 20-hour workdays to try and keep the site up.
The more bad press Twitter kept getting, the more it sparked curiosity. In 2008 when the site had millions of users the board accidentally realized –
TWITTER HAD NO BACK UP.
You know, like, if it all went down the digital drain there was no recovering it. And among all this mess, the decision making process within the leadership team was like a carnival. With this strange power vacuum, a broken non-system and no business plan, it was still worth 80Mil at this point.
Twitter has practically become particles in the air that everyone is breathing. And supposedly, this vibrant, virtual air is supposed to make us feel just a bit less alone.
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