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Q&A: Twitter's Biz Stone talks search, favorite Tweets and changing the Internet

Twitter co-founder discusses advertising possibilities, Facebook and haiku Tweets

February 17, 2009 12:00 PM ET

Computerworld - Twitter Inc. is arguably changing the way people socialize and communicate online.

When Lance Armstrong's bike was stolen, he put out an APB to the "twitterati." When NASA scientists make a discovery about Mars, they turn to Twitter to get the word out to avid space enthusiasts. And when average, everyday people have good or bad news to share, they alert their friends and family, not always by telephone or even e-mail, but by Twitter.

Biz Stone, a co-founder of the company that offers a mixture of social networking and microblogging tools, says Twitter has the potential to significantly expand the Internet and the way we use it. Twitter, he says, is about connections and information. But he also goes so far as to say that San Francisco-based Twitter is also about the "triumph of humanity."

In a conversation with Computerworld, Stone talked about extending Twitter's search capabilities, his favorite Twitter topics, making Twitter more mobile and the company's commercialization plans.

How many times a day do you Twitter? I only do it two to three times a day. If I'm doing something out of the norm, and I think, 'Oh, this is interesting.' I'll twitter about it. But on a day-to-day basis, I do it less.

What do you generally Twitter about? Sometimes I Twitter about what's going on at the office. Every Friday, we have a meeting and then we watch a movie or play a game. I let people know what's going on in the office. If I'm traveling or visiting a friend, I'll say where I'm headed. And then sometimes I'll do something silly like a pun or a joke. I just go on and do it and if it's not a great one, it'll get washed away with the next ones.

Biz Stone
Biz Stone

A lot of what people Twitter about is how good their morning cup of coffee was or if they got a great parking spot at work. Why are we so interested in that stuff? When we first got started and we didn't know where we were headed, we positioned it as a way to stay updated on seemingly insignificant updates about the day. But it's become the pulse of what's happening in the world. It can be as big as terrorist attacks in Mumbai or as nano as eating a sandwich. But your mom might want to know that you're eating something good. But you can also tune into Twitter to find out what's happening with some major event by using search. You can throw some friends in there along with an airline and a news agency and then you'd get a pretty interesting timeline going. You can look at it as trivial or as a pulse of information. It depends on how you customize it.



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