Sunday, June 8, 2014

"In the age of Twitter, history is written by everyone"

Hatching Twitter by Nick Bilton

Twitter is a funny thing.

When our Social Media professor at Plantijn College prompted us to try out Twitter, few of us understood how to use it. Were we supposed to share Facebook-like status updates? Should we use it passively, as a way to stay on top of breaking events? Via trial and error, we slowly came to grips with the intricacies of the social platform, falling in love with it along the way.

Apparently, us mere Communication students weren't the only ones figuring it out as we went along. The founders of Twitter -- Evan Williams, Jack Dorsey, Noah Glass, and Biz Stone -- all had their own vision for the company, resulting in a behind-the-scenes shoving match that ended up destroying friendships as the small San Francisco start-up conquered the world.

Oh, and thanks again Queromedia for having all these great books for me to read.

Twitter started out as a detour project at Odeo, a failing podcasting start-up founded by Williams (who created Blogger) and Glass. The first prototype, developed by Dorsey and German freelancer Florian Weber, was introduced publicly in 2006. A year later, at SXSW, Twitter's rapid rise began, in no small part because of endorsements by Ashton Kutcher, Oprah Winfrey and Barack Obama, and of course for its role in the Iranian election protests. While Twitter revolutionized online communications, its founders schemed on each other behind closed doors.

Hatching Twitter is a fast-paced book that does a great job of making the inner-workings of tech start-ups accessible for the masses. It's sexy and compelling, and even though Bilton wields a pretty broad brush when it comes to depicting character traits, he manages to paint the whole story of Twitter. With special guest appearances by Mark Zuckerberg, Snoop Dogg, and Al Gore, the book reads like a train and offers some great insights about one of the fastest-growing social platforms in the world. Go read this.

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