Are you sick of Twitter yet? Probably! But if not, wait patiently because the spunky little messaging service is teaming with a group of Hollywood geniuses to bring you an "unscripted show" that would "harness Twitter to put players on the trail of celebrities in an interactive, competitive format." Yeah.
Vastly overqualified for an administrative assistant job, yet willing to sublimate your ego by doing grunt work? Twitter CEO Ev Williams has a job for you. He and cofounder Biz Stone are seeking a "future entrepreneur" who's willing to make copies one day and invent a business model for the revenueless microblogging service the next. Here's the job listing:
The Wall Street Journal is running a strange article about Twitter. Everything about it strikes me as bizarre, right down to the picture, which shows Jack Dorsey, the cofounder recently ousted as the company's CEO. Indeed, the article is more telling in what it doesn't cover than what it does.For example, it doesn't even allude to the company's office drama; cofounder Biz Stone subs in as spokesman for new CEO Ev Williams. It also skips over Twitter's latest privacy violation, which even affected the author of the piece. But it does, in a roundabout way, get at the heart of Twitter's problem: The tool for posting short text updates can be useful for businesses — just not Twitter itself. Cofounder Biz Stone suggests the company may find a way to charge business customers for "premium services." A great idea. If only it had tried it a year ago, before the market crisis made such a move look desperate, rather than a bold experiment. (Photo by Getty Images)
Twitter cofounder Biz Stone posted a chart showing the frequency of political keywords during Friday night's McCain/Obama debate. "Iraq" hit the highest rate of tweeting at a given moment during the event, followed by "tax" and then "Korean" after John McCain deemed North Korea "a huge gulag" that stunts its citizens' growth by three inches. But the trick to reading a chart like this is to look not at the height of the lines, but the surface area under them — that's how you measure the total number of tweets for that keyword. Iraq and taxes look to be the biggest. But Stone's chart shows Iran and Russia, not Koreans, are what everyone's tweeting about.
The Internet has left us not quite ourselves. Half of San Francisco and Brooklyn, it suddenly seems, wishes they were high school students in the '50s. The other half would rather be in a Japanese manga graphic novel. This urge to be someone slightly different has been capitalized on by two websites: FaceYourManga and Yearbook Yourself. The market need is obvious: For every social network you join, you need a profile pic, lest you be marked as an outcast with an anonymous default image. Drunken party snapshots do the trick for MySpace. But the pressure to find the perfect photo has led some down rather odd roads in an idealized quest for a better, cuter self. These profile pictures say, "This is me, but not really me."Jason Kottke, a popular blogger, wrote about the Yearbook Yourself site on Sunday. Ev Williams, the founder of Twitter, soon adopted an Eisenhower-era look on his site, even as he complained about the trendiness of FaceYourManga. His colleague at Twitter, Biz Stone, was an early adopter of the manga look last week. A Twitter user, Vishy Venugopalan, notes that it's too late to go manga, and has followed Williams on the Yearbook trend. This is fashion, of course, nothing more and nothing less. Countless startups have sprung up around the idea of blinging your "avatar," the fancy word entrepreneurs like to use for one's online depiction of self. But no one seems to be making money off this trend. Yearbook Yourself, improbably, was offered up by a chain of shopping centers, which advertises some of the apparel chains in its malls on the site. FaceYourManga only says that it is "property of Pixelheads," which appears to be some kind of Web design operation. The profile-pic generator is nothing new. A Simpsons avatar generator was popular last year. Nintendo's Wii uses "Mii" avatars, whose manga-lite stylings became popular even off the videogame console. But the two new sites show that demand is spreading. There may not be a market in this, but there is a mania. What we lose is any sense of who we're dealing with online. Unreal avatars serve to further the breakdown of online manners, and personal boundaries. It's easier to flirt with, or insult, a manga character or a black-and-white Photoshop job than a real person. Of course, our online friends never really were our friends, were they? Look at them: They're just funny pictures, acquaintances as trading cards. Collect them all. (Profile pics by ev, biz, caroline, and midtownninja)
"When you send one message to Twitter and we send it to ten followers, you aren't charged ten times—that's because we've been footing the bill." That's founder Biz Stone's explanation of why Twitter has stopped delivering SMS updates to all countries other than the United States, Canada and India. Stone says the company had tried to negotiate special rates elsewhere, but no luck. He lists a half-dozen alternate means such as TwitterBerry for receiving updates, but we feel your pain — it's just not going to be the same. VentureBeat's MG Siegler wins the prize for best analysis: Bloated SMS rates are what really needs to go. (Photo by Gustav H)
Vancouver-based NowPublic is ostensibly all about citizen journalism. But since Guy Kawasaki sold Truemors to it and signed up as an advisor, it's becoming better known for publishing flattering lists of "influencers," supposedly ranking them according to various social media metrics. The first "Most Public" list focused on New York, but a new list for the Valley and San Francisco is "coming soon." And by virtue of being included in the latest edition, we received an early copy as a press release. Who comes out on top? Ubiquitous attention slut Robert Scoble, naturally. Full list after the jump.
The favorite downtime-riddled platform for sharing the lumps life gives you in 140 characters or less, Twitter, has received a hot investment infusion of an undisclosed amount from Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos and Bijan Sabet of Spark Capital. Spokesperson Biz Stone promises everyone that "Twitter will become a sustainable business supported by a revenue model," though they must have been a bit more specific when pitching to Bezos and Sabet. Sabet, for his part, earned himself a seat on Twitter's board with the deal. [Twitter Blog]
You know Twitter cofounder Biz Stone didn't do a very good job explaining what he's created to Fox Business reporter Liz Claman when, after Stone was finished Claman asked, "So, it just pops up on your cell phone — does it make a sound when it pops up?" That fine moment, about 2 minutes and 40 seconds in, and whole lot of describing Twitter messages as "poetry," in the full interview, embedded below.
How sly: Twitter's Biz Stone posted over the weekend that "there's going to be some very interesting breaking news happening on Twitter." By which Stone means that people are going to be using Twitter to report on Steve Jobs's keynote at Apple's WWDC event today. Jobs is expected to announce a new version of the iPhone, but only after boring the bejeezus out of everyone who's not a developer with a lot of inane news about software — not that that will stop Apple transcriptionists from Twittering Jobs's every exhalation.
Twitter's founders are waging a behind-the-scenes war with Blaine Cook, the blogging service's former chief architect. The subject: Who's responsible for the service's perpetual outages. TechCrunch's Michael Arrington ran a series of leading questions about Twitter's infrastructure, attributing them to "people who say they’ve seen Twitter’s architecture." I don't think that's true, if only because I received a similar set of questions, before Arrington's post went up, from a source who identified himself as a "friend of Blaine." In their official response, Twitter cofounders Jack Dorsey and Biz Stone — they're the two one always forgets about, because they're not as interesting as Evan Williams — go out of their way to avoid naming names.
Don't call Ariel Waldman a "whore" where Google can hear you. That's the only firm conclusion we can draw from a confusing fracas that left even Twitter cofounder Biz Stone unsure who can call whom a whore on the service. Waldman, a blogger and community manager at quasi-rival messaging site Pownce, called out Twitter for allegedly failing to uphold its own terms of service, setting off an online firestorm.