x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Explores the boardroom coups and bloody oustings behind the social media giant's success.

 Hatching Twitter by Nick Bilton
Hatching Twitter by Nick Bilton

Hatching Twitter by Nick Bilton isn’t the book of the film, or the blog of the book, or the text of the tweet. It is an explanation of our multimedia landscape and how something important can come about in 140 characters.

I was always dismissive of Twitter as another tech trend that has no place in my world, that was until I actually used it and found that it was whatever you want it to be, as it is shaped by you.

It’s a micro blog; it’s a news wire; it’s a sounding board; it’s a marketing tool; it’s a communications channel; it’s a public message service; it’s all of those and more.

Twitter has acquired 232 million active users and according to its recent share sale is worth approximately US$18 billion. That’s a lot dollars, which is why New York Times journalists like the technology writer Nick Bilton are writing books about it.

It is possible that it was written because of the success of The Social Network, the Hollywood dramatisation, Oscar-nominated film of Facebook’s origins. It does read like a work of fiction with boardroom coups and bloody oustings leaving two of the four founders billionaires and two with little but remorse and a lifetime of reflection.

The ever-so readable book is an expose of what not to do if you ever become part of billion dollar company that Al Gore, Sean Combs (aka P Diddy) and Mark Zuckerberg all want a part of. The hippy ideal of democratising the news agenda, spawned in a camper van and a garage, was never lost but the friendships and relationships that forged the company have been forever fractured.

As a 140 character tool, Twitter is regularly derided as a medium that dumbs down its users into emoticon loving, monosyllabic, nerds. However, those that use the media realise, with its hyperlinks and tags, it is a door to huge areas of expertise, knowledge, conversations and current trends. If you don’t know what Twitter is, you don’t need to worry, as the book shows, neither did its founders.

ascott@thenational.ae