Dick Costolo CEO Twitter in conversation with Emily Bell, former Guardian Digital head and currently leads Tao Centre of Journalism at Columbia University.
This is from ONA 2012 in San Francisco
EB: Thank you for ruining my attention span and malnourishing my children. Tell us about the special relationship between journalists and Twitter.
DC: Twitter has been incredibly valuable to journalists. Globally it has become a valuable journalism tool. A reporting tool for journalists, not just breaking news. Conversations around key issues are on Twitter.
EB: another trivial q – Twitter is the single tool that has had the largest impact on journalism. How does it feel to be in control of the free press?
DC: I Don’t see Twitter like that. We are a tech company. Media companies, are creating and curating content, we are not that.
EB: You’re a platform company not a media company, but every choice you make becomes editorial. You’re dictating free speech for the world.
DC: As dstinct from news aggregators, we distribute publishers content – Twitter Cards control the view evenmore.
DC: It’s important for us to defend our users rights to protest. we’ve spent a significant money, on that case. Put between a rock and a hard place when we were told we’d be held in contempt.
EB: This is going to get more entrenched. It is going to grow…
DC: There are a lot of rules in every country. You can’t say things about Ataturk in Turkey. We’ll have to figure it out. There is no one size fits all solution.
EB: How big is Twitter?
DC: 1800 people
DC: We don’t talk about that (laughs)
EB: Twitter is an absolute phenomenal success. Does it give you more responsibility than you like? Would you prefer fewer people relying on it?
DC: No it’s fun to go to work. I’m never going to have another job like it. Every day has crazy Twitter moments from the ridiculous to the sublime.
EB: Twitplomacy – how do you see this as a strategic challenge?
DC: Don’t see it that way. Elected officials and people see the power of this platform. Fascinating to watch Rupert Murdoch use this platform. As a public ceo he has been great in getting people to work this platform. You get a 360 view of the person
EB: Who’s not Twitter that you’d like to see on Twitter?
DC: Tom Brady (an American football quarterback) is not on Twitter.
EB: Is it possible to have Piers Morgan removed from twitter?Crowd roars
EB: Recent changes of the api – upset a large no of people
DC: There’s a big distinction between having an api and having a platform. You could do whatever you wanted to the api and people built different esperiences. Then there was no android or iPhone client etc. In 2010 we found too many kinds of Twitter platforms in the app world. We realised we have to own an operating client across platforms. We’re in this world where the api, was not providing a creative value-ad. We wanted to migrate to a world where users get the Twitter experience and more. Amazon, initially provided an alternate auction experience. Didn’t work. instead they set about building a true platform that allowed developers to build into amazon, where users could get the benefit of additional inventory. Amazon was specifially willing to cannibalize their own value chain. Amazon realised a creative value to third party and user.
We are going to build a third party platform that will allow developers to build into Twitter. The IFTT removing Twitter has nothing to do with changes to our api.
EB: You’ve said you see Apple as a mentor, you’ve introduced physical changes, is the era of open-ness over?
DC: NO. People used to say you have to be a product founder of a company to run it. But that changed. Now you have Tim Cook at an Apple, me at Twitter. Two or three data points is not enough for a trend. We will build this platform in an open way. We are working on a set of editorial curation tools that will enable publishers to curate themselves on Twitter.
EB: What are the other exciting things we’re likely to see.
DC: When events happens the shared experiences are on Twitter. Can algorithms provide a better curation experience? It’s fascinating to note, when you isolate signal from noise you lose the roar of the crowd. In the Olympics, you didn’t have the noise. We need to nail down what these curation tools should look like. There’s a fascinating relationship between Twitter and tv. We’ve just scratched the surface.
EB: The conversation around the content has filled the void that bad content created.
EB: When can we download all our tweets?
DC: End of the year
EB: What about archiving tools?
DC: Shared experiences is a focus and to let third-party syndicate the tweets
EB: Are you sure you don’t want a Twitter phone?
DC: We don’t have plans for it. Not the way we think about it.
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