Personal Democracy Plus Our premium content network. LEARN MORE You are not logged in. LOG IN NOW >

Biz and Ev Unpack the Twitter Revolution

BY Nancy Scola | Thursday, September 16 2010

I stumbled across this video on Twitter, fittingly, though I don't recall via whom. Thanks for it, though. At the 2010 Aspen Ideas Festival in Colorado, Twitter co-founders Biz Stone and Ev Williams sat down on stage to discuss all things Twitter with Aspen Institute President and CEO Walter Isaacson. The video isn't all that fresh. It's from July. But it's one of the first times I've heard the guiding forces behind Twitter speak about the role of the service, and of them as young entrepreneurs, in the drama that ensued in Iran after last summer's disputed election.

Isaacson: "When Iran happened, Jared Cohen and Alec Ross and others at State actually called you to say, don't do your weekend server maintenance now, or something, right?" Cohen has been a member of State's Policy Planning Staff who recently announced a move to Google, and Ross is Secretary Clinton's lead advisor on innovation. Biz and Ev's reactions suggests that -- again, fittingly -- it was the emergent behavior of the crowd that had much to do with triggering their response to that time. (The relevant exchange begins at about the 18 minute mark.)

Asked about State's vocalization about the ill-timed server shut-down, Biz says, "By the way, them," and here, a dramatic pause for humor's sake, "and everybody else." Ev chuckles, and Biz continues. "What we did was we put a note in the UI that said, tomorrow at this time, there will be a maintenance window, Twitter will be down. We were flooded with tweets," as Biz waves his hands towards him, mimicking the onslaught, "with emails, with phone calls...among them, the State Department...[saying,] you can't shut this deal down." The Twitter team agreed with the general sentiment, and worked with their hosting company to keep things up and running.

If you're interested in Twitter, as company and/or as an idea, the full discussion is worth watching sometime.

News Briefs

RSS Feed thursday >

NYC Open Data Advocates Focus on Quality And Value Over Quantity

The New York City Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications plans to publish more than double the amount of datasets this year than it published to the portal last year, new Commissioner Anne Roest wrote last week in an annual report mandated by the city's open data law, with 135 datasets scheduled to be released this year, and almost 100 more to come in 2015. But as preparations are underway for City Council open data oversight hearings in the fall, what matters more to advocates than the absolute number of the datasets is their quality. GO

Civic Tech and Engagement: Announcing a New Series on What Makes it "Thick"

Announcing a new series of feature articles that we will be publishing over the next several months, thanks to the support of the Rita Allen Foundation. Our focus is on digitally-enabled civic engagement, and in particular, how and under what conditions "thick" digital civic engagement occurs. What we're after is answers to this question: When does a tech tool or platform enable actual people to make ongoing and significant contributions to each other, to a place or cause, at a scale that produces demonstrable change? GO

More