Plucky piece by Emma Barnett in the Telegraph today, who cornered the Twitter co-founder and CEO Evan Williams at a conference earlier this week.
Williams is the lesser-known half of the pair who founded the supersonic global conversation site. That said, he still has more than a million "followers".
It may be one of the world’s most celebrated brands but, as a business, Twitter is clearly a work in progress. Williams happily confesses that he "loathes" aspects of the site, such as its "Suggested User List". In particular, Williams is desperate to develop the "search" element of Twitter. "Real-time search" is a holy grail among the mega-beasts of the internet, such as Google and Microsoft. Both have recently announced search partnerships with Twitter, which still only employs 85 people.
“We are in the middle of a series of experiments to try and figure out how to enable people to discover what they need to know without asking," says Williams. "Our whole goal is about telling people what is happening in the world and doing it really well. We want to be able to find out what information you want before you do.”
He goes on about how Twitter will achieve real-time search: “Location is an obvious one – we can tell quite easily where you are and what information you could be interested in from that. But with our new lists feature [which allows people to create groups of those they follow] and as we get better at curating and filtering the information we have, we will be able to serve people increasingly personalised real-time content. That’s valuable and will make people continue to use and rely upon Twitter.”
Wiliams insists that Twitter isn’t a "social network". It appears, currently, to be a phenomenon without a defining characteristic; a project seeking a purpose. But maybe that’s just the point: its looseness and constant evolution enables the site to be whatever users wish it to be. Tweet on.
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