Dick Costolo, CEO of Twitter, talks about the power of Twitter as a communication tool. November, 2012. This event was co-sponsored by the Ford School and the School of Information.
>>View the video at: http://www.fordschool.umich.edu/video/newest/1975704207001/
>> Susan Collins: Hello, everybody, hello and good afternoon. I'm Susan Collins, the Joan and Sanford Weill dean of the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, and I am so thrilled to see all of you here with us this afternoon. It is my very great honor to welcome you here today as the University of Michigan celebrates the return to campus of one of our most distinguished alumni, Mr. Dick Costolo. He is, as you know, the CEO of one of the world's most innovative and most talked about corporations, the social media giant, Twitter. And we are so pleased that so many of the universities' executive officers and deans could be here to join us today. So welcome and thank you very much for joining us. It is -- so today's event is cosponsored with the School of Information. And in just a moment my colleague, Dean Jeff MacKie-Mason will give a more complete introduction to our speaker, but first on behalf of the Ford School's students and faculty here today I just wanted to say how delighted we are to bring Mr. Costolo back to his alma mater.
We've all seen that Twitter and other social media tools are so incredibly powerful, and they have really, really taken forward the potential in the policy round that I think many people had not really envisioned at all. And that is the extent to which coalitions of citizens can now organize overnight around shared political goals, and that governments must respond to their constituents politically and in real time, and that that proverbial town square is now not just centered in a very small locality but really is as wide as the world itself. It's a place where dialogue and debate can lead to consensus and better informing us about important issues, and can lead us towards much, much better public policy. And that's inspiring, and we're so proud that today we're able to co-host today's exploration of those really, really important issues. And so now to introduce more formally our speaker, I'd like to call to the stage Jeff MacKie-Mason. Jeff is the dean of our School of Information, and he is Arthur W. Burk's collegiate professor of information and computer science. He's also a professor of economics and a professor in the School of Public Policy, and he earned his master's degree at the Ford School and remains a very good friend to the school. And so I'm particularly delighted to be cosponsoring this event with him here today. Jeff, would you like to introduce our speaker?
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>> Jeff MacKie-Mason: Welcome to all of you, and thank you for being here. As the dean of the School of Information it's my great pleasure to introduce you to today's speaker, Dick Costolo. Dick Costolo graduated from the University of Michigan in 1985 with a bachelor's degree in computer science. Since then well he took it seriously, leaders and best [phonetic]. Now, you might think with a degree in computer science and a future in the technology industry Dick did the usual thing, he geeked out, he became a contact programmer in a cubicle for Microsoft, and then gradually worked his way up to the big time. Big-time, yes, code monkey, not so much. Dick started his career in Chicago in standup in improv comedy. He had filled out his degree requirements with forces in theater here at the University of Michigan, and he spent years touring comedy festivals in the US and Europe. But then in 1996 he looked ahead and he saw that this -- at the time rather small thing called "the internet," seemed to be on a roll so he jumped in with both feet. He started and then sold three companies, Burning Door Network Media, Spy-On-It, and FeedBurner. FeedBurner he sold in 2007 to Google for $100 million.
In 2009 Dick took on a temporary assignment as the COO, chief operating officer, of Twitter. He agreed to serve for a year while his friend and the cofounder of Twitter, Evan Williams, went on paternity leave. Dick's first tweet after joining Twitter, with 70 characters, was the following, "First full day as Twitter COO tomorrow. Task number one, undermine CEO, consolidate power, ha, ha, ha, ha," as we say online. Once a standup, always a standup. But not so fast. One year later he was the CEO of Twitter. He was dead serious. His friend, Evan Williams, went onto other projects, by his choice, or so they say. Since assuming the leadership of Twitter, it has grown to over 500 million users who generate over 350 million tweets on a typical day. It's one of the top ten visited sites on the internet. But more important, it's evolved into a communications tool and medium of enormous importance throughout all aspects of society today. It's used in crisis and emergency management. It's used as an educational back channel. It's used in presidential town meetings and to spread breaking news.
On November 6th of this year, President Obama sent out a short tweet late in the evening, "Four more years." And that was re-tweeted over 760,000 times in the next 20 hours. He also received congratulations from world leaders via Twitter. So what's it like to lead this social media juggernaut and where is it headed? We're about to hear. Dick Costolo, welcome back to Michigan.
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>> Dick Costolo: Thanks very much. That's awesome; thank you. ^M00:06:28 [ Applause ] ^M00:06:34 I can't tell you how long I've regretted that first tweet that I sent as COO of Twitter. [Laughter] I guess it's brought up all the times. So listen, a couple logistics things before we get started. I've never given this presentation before, and in fact just finished putting it together about three hours ago. So I have no idea how long it goes. So just -- we'll just play along and if I start going over someone just can wave their hands at me and tell me to be quiet. The second thing I wanted to do was I thought I'd just give a little bit more background on myself and how I got started in the history of coming to school here at Michigan and how that sort of sent me on the path I ended up going on before diving into the conversation. And then I'll describe what I want to talk about and then we'll dive in. So when I got my CS degree here, you know, now CS degrees are in the engineering school and it's an EECS degree.
When I got my degree here during the Roosevelt administration, it was in the Literature Science and Arts School, and it was called, "computer and communications sciences." So my junior and senior year, as the dean said, I had all these arts credits that I had to have while I was taking operating systems and assembler language, programming, et cetera. And to be perfectly frank I looked for what are the things they're going to have like the least homework and not have to get in the way of the CS work I'm going to do? And I started to take these theater classes to flush out my arts credits. And I loved the first one I took so much I took another one, and another one, and I took a couple more my senior year. And I fell in love with it so much that the beginning of my senior year I started doing standup comedy at the student union here in Michigan Union. At the time these are affectionately known as the good old days, there was a bar in the student union called "the U Club" where students would go and drink, which is what you do in a bar. And on Wednesday and Thursday nights there was -- we did standup, and you could just sign up and go up and do five or ten minutes. And so I started doing that in my senior year, and that in conjunction with the theater classes led me to conclude when I received my CS degree that I would call my parents and tell them I was turning down all my job offers and going to go to Second City in Chicago and study improvisation, at which point there was a long silence on the other end of the line.
But that's what I did; and I say that because when you looked at the list of CS graduates in '85, which is when I graduated, and looked at what they went on to do, I was going to be the person at the very, very bottom of the list of most likely to be running a major technology company 20 some years from now. So it's just a reminder to all of you to always do what you want to do and follow your passion and the thing you're interested in, not the thing you think you're supposed to do, because it will likely all work out in the end anyway. And you can just tell your parents that I told you that. [Laughter] Here's proof that I actually went to Michigan. This is my student photo. [Laughter] I don't know why everyone laughs at that when I show it. But yes, so that's my 1985 student ID card in the computer science department. I show this to people once in a while because there is a Wikipedia page for me in which someone keeps adding that I got my master's in CS at Cal-Berkeley, and I've never stepped foot on the Cal-Berkeley campus. And I keep on having it deleted, at which point someone adds it back in. So [laughter] I know that someday I'm going to get appointed at some position and someone's going to come out and say, "He lied on his resume. He never went to Cal-Berkeley." So that's that.
All right. I want to talk to you about what I want to talk to you about, what I came here today to talk to you about, and that's Twitter and how we think about Twitter within the company. And the really, really fundamental implications for public policy and government communications and all sorts of broadcast media around the world and the way it's going to change all of those and already is changing all of those in dramatic fashion. And so I'll start by talking about the Greek Agora. And so the Greek Agora was this meeting place or marketplace in ancient Greece where, you know, after dinner people would get together to debate and have dialogue about -- and discourse about whatever the political issues of the day were in the community, whatever the news was in the community, you know, Umenity's [assumed spelling] goat died, my aunt broke her ankle, whatever. And that's how information was exchanged and how news passed around the community and how political discourse happened. And so the interesting things about the Agora, the interesting characteristics of it are it was multidirectional, it wasn't someone standing on a stage like I am with you and just dictating. So there was a conversation, a real dialogue, right, the prefix in dialogue means "across." It was unfiltered, it was not interpreted. The news wasn't interpreted and then written down and handed to people. It was unfiltered. And it was real time. You were hearing what people were talking about right there with each other. The conversation was happening right now, it wasn't recorded or showed later to people.
But there are all sorts of limitations with the Agora. First of all, the distance in which that news would travel was very, very short. It was filled with noise and rumor, "Did Umenity's goat really die or does this guy just walk around all the time saying everybody's goat died?" We don't -- I don't -- maybe we don't know it. I've got to go ask this other person. It was super incomplete, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. There was no formal record of it, so it wasn't preserved, on and on and on. But it had these amazing qualities of unfiltered and multidirectional, which were fascinating. So hundreds of years later everyone starts wearing tights and we invent the printing press. [Laughter] And the fascinating thing about the printing press now is now we start to have a broadcast -- really a broadcast version of news and even political discussion, political discourse, and information distribution. And we lose some of the benefits of the Agora. We lose multi-direction, and we lose unfiltered, because as we're now starting to print things out and write things down, the communication is necessarily filtered, it's being filtered by the person who's doing the writing, and we lose that multidirectional capability that the Agora had. But all these other benefits accrue to us, we now have a written record, we can do things like compile the written record and put it into libraries for future reference. Everyone is starting to hear at least the similar version of events, right? It's written down in two sheets of paper and handed to these two people and they go back to their community and we both read the same thing. In the Agora just through the natural progression of playing telephone with people by the time this person tells that person and they tell the next person and they tell the next person, the story's changed completely. Umenity's entire goat fleet was -- herd was wiped out. [Laughter]
So these benefits that we get with broadcaster contrasted or juxtaposed against these things about the Agora that we value that we lose. So interesting things start to happen as technology improves and broadcast media becomes more prevalent. One, as we start to create the ability to create these print broad sheets that can be distributed to more and more and more people, it also increases the cost and capital requirements with being a publisher, right? This kind of equipment here wasn't something that everyone had in their basement. It was something that fewer and fewer people or companies or organizations had access to. So not only is it now not truly multi-perspective, it's the perspective that's coming from fewer and fewer and fewer sources ever more filtered. And with that filtering and the fewer sources we start to get really this outside-in view of the news. What I mean by that is in the Agora we had an inside-out view of the news. It was the participants themselves who would come there and talk about what was going on with them or what they had just witnessed or what they had just saw, and now we're starting to get this very, very filtered third-party view of what's happening. And of course this just becomes more and more and more reinforced as technology gets better and better and better. We start to value the speed and distance and elimination of the time and distance barriers to distributing information, but in exchange have fewer sources of that information and less perspective on that information. It becomes more outside-in, more filtered, fewer sources. All right. So we see that with radio.
And in each of these cases the fascinating thing about these new technologies is they all start out with the idea that they're going to be multidirectional. And in fact we even get the illusion of multidirectional, multi-perspective in things like talk radio, right; people have talk radio and they'll call in and they'll say, "We want to hear what everyone hears about that." But of course it's really an illusion because there's an editor of who gets to call in, which calls we're going to take. We're only listening to the kinds of conversations increasingly, as you all know, the kinds of political discourse, for example, that are coming from people that agree with us, right? Rush Limbaugh doesn't have the ratings he has because liberals everywhere are tuning in every time Rush Limbaugh comes on the air. But his talk radio show is listened to by people that want to hear what he's got to say, and then they call in. So it's still really filtered, it's still mono-directional, and it's still outside-in, not inside-out.
Okay. Again, with TV; envision originally as two-way, but ever fewer sources in fact it's incredibly few, networks for many years. And all these problems of broadcast become compounded as the benefits of broadcast, ever wider distribution, ever faster distribution, also weigh in. So along comes Twitter, and it has this really, really interesting effect on all this stuff. The history of technology traditionally has been disruptive or disintermediating to existing media companies. Every time you talk to a news publisher, for example, about things like Google News, they, you know, will shake their heads and say, "Well, they're really like trying to take us out of the equation and draw all the eyeballs over there to Google News, and aggregate the news, but we spent all this money reporting on it and then they get all the oddballs. And you can go on and on and on through this eras of technology companies that are merged that turn out to be disintermediating or disruptive to broadcast communications. But along comes Twitter, and Twitter reinvents the Agora. We once start to see multiple perspectives on a particular news story or event that's happening. We once again start to have a shared experience across the globe about what's happening and what we're viewing right now. We once get an unfiltered perspective on what's happening.
But at the same time, it complements all these traditional forms of broadcast media, and all sorts of fascinating in ways that we would have never predicted when Twitter was getting starting. And in fact it continues to happen in ways that we can't predict and we haven't predicted. So, for example, on television when there's an event on television like a major sporting event like the Olympics, or the debates, or of course the reporting of the presidential election, it is increasingly the case that Twitter is the shared experience, the addition of the multiple perspectives and the inside-out view and the dialogue and the conversation about the broadcasting that's happening on television right now. And we see that more and more and more and more with every broadcast event on television. Just to give you a couple examples, during the World Cup a couple years ago in the summer of 2010 when there was a major match between Brazil or Japan, two of our biggest countries, we used to fret that if Brazil or Japan scored it would take down the Twitter service because everybody in Brazil or everybody in Japan would be tweeting, "Goal," gee 138 O's and AL [phonetic], or 137.
And in fact I remember vividly in the summer of 2010 sitting in the commons at our then world headquarters and watching Brazil game -- Brazil's first match on a big screen with all of our operations engineers praying for Brazil not to score; [laughter] and sweating every time Brazil would start to penetrate deep into the opponent's territory. And we set records at that time for tweets per second of about 3,000 tweets per second when Brazil scored and then when Japan scored; so at the time, again, about two years and a few months ago, of 3,000 tweets per second. Cut to the first presidential debate, and during the first presidential debate, we were well over 8,000 tweets per second for extended periods of time, like hours; 8,000 tweets per second for over an hour. Cut to the night of the election, well over 12,000, 15,000 tweets per second for extended periods of time. So it's increasingly the case that people realize that this is where the shared experience happens while the broadcasters are talking about or showing us something else that's happening. It's even the case, interestingly enough, that Twitter complements television in ways that are [inaudible] in the world would think it would disrupt television. So let me give you a specific example there.
During the Olympics -- I don't know why I'm talking with my hands in my pocket. I normally don't do that. I think I'm just trying to prevent myself from gesticulating wildly because I've had like four cups of coffee. [Laughter] Anyway, it's like three hours earlier in San Francisco, and I had to wake up early here so I drank a lot of coffee. All right. What was I talking about? Oh, yes, the Olympics. So when NBC was broadcasting the Olympics here, they were tape delaying a bunch of the events. And on Twitter the first day that the Olympic events were being broadcast, a bunch of people were tweeting with hash tag "NBC Fail" because they would say things like, "Well, we already know Ryan Lochte won because he tweeted that he won and everyone in London who's there is tweeting that he won, so why are you guys saying like, 'Tune in tonight to see who wins the --'" you know; [laughter] but what happened was NBC had the highest rated Olympics in 36 years of television broadcasting the Olympics in the US; in the last 36 years the highest-rated Olympics that they've had -- that have been had. So why was that? If it was the case that we already knew what happened so we don't have to watch tonight, what's going on? What was going on was -- and NBC would I'm sure stand up here and tell you the say thing, as people were talking about it on Twitter during the day, that inside-out view of the content from the athletes and participants themselves, instead of from a guy in a broadcast booth saying, "Tune in tonight," people got increasingly excited about watching it because of the excitement they were seeing from the participants and the people who were in the stands tweeting things like, "That was the most amazing, you know, 100-meter relay I've ever seen," right?
In fact, we noticed it happening to ourselves in the office. When we would read things during the day, we'd see a tweet from a woman on the US 4 by 100 meter relay team in track and field tweeting, "World record," you know, that they'd just broken the world record. I never watched track and field events, I went home that night and watched with my family the women's 4 by 100 meter relay teams watched them break the world record. So it provides this amazing complement to broadcast media in all sorts of fascinating ways, and I'll show you some examples of that. And then what I want you guys to be thinking about as you think about your careers in the future of what you're going to be focused on and thinking about our -- all the interesting implications for, "How does that change television? What are the interesting things that having a shared conversation about this thing that's on TV right now, how can that change television?" Remember when television first started, they just had a single camera sitting there pointed at these people and telling them to do something, or broadcast something live, and then they started to realize, "Oh, there are all these other interesting things we can do with this medium." I think what you'll see over the course of the next few years is that television producers will start to realize, "Wait a minute, if we've got a shared experience and we've got a second screen out there on Twitter, there are all sorts of other things we can do." We're seeing that with radio, we're seeing that with television, and we're seeing it with print journalism, and I'll show you some examples of that as well.
Okay. So this is an example of companies or rather production companies in television starting to think about super early days what to do with this kind of thing. So "The X Factor" is the show in the UK, and now here in the US because we import all of our realities from the UK. I don't know why I just made that sort of political statement about US reality shows. [Laughter] I don't have any particular opinion on it one way or the other. So this is a video clip I'm going to show you from the show "The X Factor" in the UK where "The X Factor" producers know that while "The X Factor" is on everyone in the UK is talking about it on Twitter. So what they decide to do is start to say during the show -- during the program when someone was on who they know people are going to be talking about a lot, we're going to put the hash tag we want to correlate or -- sorry, aggregate this conversation around on screen and see what happens. So let me show you what happens. What you're going to see is a blue line that corresponds to tweets with this hash tag that they're going to put on air at a certain point. What's in the upper right-hand -- left-hand corner is not on air at the time, so that's not on the screen at the time. The blue line are tweets with a particular hash tag you're going to see appear on the TV screen. And the white are all tweets about the show with the hash tag "X Factor," okay? All right. So here's the show.
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So they put this hash tag on air and then there were 27,000 tweets within the next like 90 seconds about -- with that hash tag. So media is starting to think about ways in which they can bring the audience back into the program, and this is going to be, I'm telling you, 2 to 3 years from now we'll look back on this and say, "Remember when they just put like the hash tag on the screen and that's all we did," and it will be viewed as super-primitive. But right now they're already starting to figure out ways in which they can pull that shared experience back into the program itself. We're seeing that in -- we saw that during the political debates. Four years ago, eight years ago, during the debates when they would go back to the news studio after the debate, they would have Frank Longs [phonetic] there as the guy who was like, "Frank, tell us what we just saw there tonight." And Frank would go back into a room with like, I'm here with 8 Americans -" and they're like, you know, they're apparently supposed to represent all of us, "And what did -- tell us what we thought when" you know, when Bob Dole said this," and that was supposed to represent all of our perspectives, right?
Today that doesn't happen anymore. What Fox did during their presidential debates was they just went to -- they did things like, "Tweet with hash tag, you know, 'answered' or hash tag, 'dodged,' if you think one of the candidates answered or dodged the question." And then during the breaks or after the debate they would go back and say Americans thought that, you know, Romney didn't answer this question and they thought he did answer this question. So we're not getting the pundant [phonetic] and the few people interpreting what they think we all saw, but we're really getting the Agora, "Here's what all of us really saw as it happens in real time." So it's all of the benefits of the Agora with the additional benefits of broadcast. It's global, it's real time. So, again, what we're going to see is there are fascinating implications to that on policy and more. So here's another little chart I'd just like to show. We talk about Twitter as the pulse of the planet. When someone asks us how we think about Twitter, we like to say, "Twitter is the pulse of the planet." And what you just saw there is a great example of why we think that. I mean, that's an -- those are tweets about a show during the season of the show. And what you could see is when the show is on, you get a big uptake in what people are saying about the show, and when it's not on there's background noise. The same thing you would see is true about major events, the same thing you would see is true about politics, on and on and on and on. They just happened to be showing TV examples here. So it's this incredible pulse of the planet.
I want to talk now about the implications for this and then have some discussion around the policy pieces of this. So the implications for this when you can hear the entire pulse of the planet, when you can hear what the world is thinking, are really, really cool. For example, if you had told me years ago that I wanted to go and study literature somewhere and I can go to a school where I can sit in the audience and the world's great authors are going to talk to me about character development and writing style and differences in writing style, and they're not just going to talk to me about that in a way that I can engage with and ask them questions about that they will answer, but they're going to engage with other great authors of the world who write in similar genres, fiction, biography, et cetera. Salman Rushdie, those of you don't follow him, who are interested in literature, is an amazing user of Twitter. And he will have conversations about character development with other great well-known writers like Margaret Atwood and others. And they'll go back and forth on Twitter and then other people will jump into the conversation and engage with them.
And the same thing is true about every sort of possible interest you could have. If you're interested in cooking, the great chefs of the world are all on Twitter engaging with their audience and each other about their topics particular to their interest. Mario Batali will answer questions about whether you should use truffle oil in a particular kind of fish dish or not. In fact, he was like tweeting up a stream this morning. He must have sent out like 80 or 90 replies to recipe questions this morning. But they're all on there, right? The chef at El Boulie [assumed spelling] in Spain and Tyler Florence in California and Grant Atkins in Chicago. So there's a huge [inaudible] Twitter. We have 1400 people working at the company right now, and people will frequently ask me like, "What do all those people do?" We have 700 engineers, and one of the things that I've challenged the engineers to do is as more and more signal pours into Twitter, it's going to be increasingly hard for us -- for our users rather to discover the content that's most interesting to them. Again, if you think about going back to the Agora, what if everyone in the world is at the Agora? The benefits to that are we can see each other as people and not as cardboard cutouts. Right; we don't see these two-dimensional media filtered perspectives of people, we see the real person. The down side of that is man, it's noisy when everybody is there. It took three years, two months and one day for the first billion tweets to be sent. From the time the company started in 2006 to mid-2009 three years, two months and one day for the first billion tweets to be sent. It has a nice rhythm that it was three, two, one. It probably wasn't exactly one day, but we like to say that; so it's three, two, one. [Laughter]
We now send a billion tweets every two and a half days. So the volume, the noise level has increased dramatically. So there's all this interesting engineering and social communication work to do inside the company to make sure that if I come to Twitter and I'm interested in literature, or I'm interested in cooking, we're surfacing the best signal and the best conversations, because sometimes, you know, Salman Rushdie might get into a conversation about something else that has nothing to do with literature, and we don't necessarily want to surface that to people who are interested in literature. So there's a bunch of fascinating work for us to do inside the company on making sure we're surfacing the right signal.
Oh. This is one of my favorite conversations. I'll tell you in a minute -- I don't have the slide on and I'll tell you in a minute my absolutely favorite conversation on Twitter, but this is certainly one of them. So I just mentioned that everybody in the world is around the Agora now. And there were all these interesting artificial barriers to communication that happened when we were dominated or only informed by broadcast media. And those artificial barriers included barriers of socioeconomic status. There was no way that I was going to walk up to the same information distribution Agora five years ago as T. Boone Pickens, the Texas oil billionaire, or Drake, the Canadian hip-hop artist, and just those are the circles I run in. There were barriers to -- [laughter] they're not -- [laughs] I don't go home at night and hang out with T. Boone Pickens, I assure you. All right. There were these interesting artificial barriers of status that the only way I ever saw Ronaldo, the football player was being interviewed on TV by some sportscaster who was asking about a football game or a World Cup match or something. So you had only this high-status, impenetrable barrier to communication that created this two-dimensional cardboard cutout image of people. And what happens when you bring all these people around the same agora as all these artificial barriers to communication are destroyed, and you start to see these fascinating conversations that never would've happened before, like this one between the Canadian hip-hop artist, Drake, who tweets, "The first million is the hardest," and T. Boone Pickens who smacks him down with, "The first billion is a hell of a lot harder." [Laughter] And what you're not seeing here is Drake's response, which was basically, "Oh, man, I just got like smacked." [Laughter]
And we all get to see that. Like so first of all this conversation never happened before, because T. Boone Pickens didn't hear Drake onstage or wherever he was saying, "The first million is the hardest." And B, we all get to see that now. So all these cool things happen when this is what's going on, when this is the way information is being distributed. Rupert Murdoch uses Twitter. And the interesting thing when you talk to people about their perception of Rupert Murdoch's use of Twitter is they almost uniformly tell you, "You know, I had this image of that guy as X, and it's interesting to see that he's got this like broad global perspective on the European crisis in Greece and Spain. What's going on with Iran and nuclear weapons and the whole Middle East sociopolitical situation there?" And we get this 360-degree view of the person that we never got through broadcast media when it was filtered from few perspectives to us. I think that's what's probably causing more and more of these VIT's -- it's what we call "very --" "VIT" is "very important tweeters," to come onto Twitter because they can see that they can now go direct to the world and not get their perspective filtered through these third parties.
Okay. My favorite one of these conversations was when the comedian, Sarah Silverman, tweeted, "When life -- when your family is really bugging you, just pretend you're in a Woody Allen movie." And Mia Farrow responded, "I tried that, it didn't work." [Laughter] Okay. So now, again, think about like -- thinks about this notion of events and the way events are traditionally presented to us. So the Daytona 500 race is this broadcast event on television. And what normally happens, interestingly enough, when a race is broadcast on television, after a crash, is that everyone turns off that station and goes and watches something else because the cars are on their yellow flag and they're cleaning up the track and they're going really slow. And people who were watching the race and interested in it turn it off. During the Daytona 500, which was broadcast on TV again this most recent time, the ratings for the program, for the race, after a major crash ticked up a little bit. Why did they tick up a little bit; because one of the participants in the race, this driver -- we won't ask why he had his iPhone in a car with him while he's driving 195 miles an hour, [laughter] but he did, and during the yellow flag he tweeted from the car his view of the fire up ahead of him on the track. That got picked up by ESPN, they broadcast it, people were like, "What's going on? I gotta watch the Daytona 500. There was a big crash in the Daytona 500." So it actually had a complete opposite effect on the viewership of this program than it normally had. But again, these amazing implications for the relationship between this global digital agora and other broadcast mediums.
So -- oh yes, I'm starting to forget what slides are coming next so I'm going to look over my shoulder. It has these remarkable implications for companies and the way they communicate. So think about the way companies traditionally communicate with us. They traditionally communicate with us through advertising. That's how they get their message out to us. And for years companies have talked about -- whenever you would go to a company's marketing department they would talk about, "Well, we need to get more involved in one-to-one communication with our customers," but it was really joke because there was no way to do one-to-one communication. Worse, they would just have these, you know, television commercials in the can that they show over and over and over and over again, and there was no -- but no sense of what people really thought about their product or how they could react to what people were thinking about their product. And now on Twitter we're seeing companies actually lead the way in thinking about new ways of talking to a group of users or a group of customers.
I'll give you one example and then I'll talk about this one. The CEO of O2, which is a mobile operator in the UK, likes to talk about Twitter as being able to walk the floor with your customers 24 hours a day. And they had an example recently where one of their -- so they provide cable boxes and mobile phones and things like that, much like AT&T would here. One of their users on Twitter tweeted to them -- to O2 in very, very British slang like, Ali G British street slang, tweeted to them this his cable box was out. But again, and it's really, really funny, you know, British street slang, and if you look at the history of his tweets he didn't speak like that usually. So he was clearly like doing it in this Ali G kind of accent intentionally. O2 tweeted back to him in the same Ali G street slang that he should turn off his cable box and turn it on again and see if that fixes it. [Laughter] If you had gone to any major company in the world, consumer brand company in the world, two years ago and said, "You should do an ad where you write to one of your users in Ali G street slang," they would have said like, "You're absolutely out of your mind." But that tweet got picked up all around the UK, it was in the papers the next day, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. So companies are finding new and amazing ways to use this platform to talk to their users and react to them and listen to them in real time.
Here's another cool example. During that same race I just showed you from Daytona, this photo was taken. Tide [phonetic] tweeted out this photo, "Let's hear your captions from this -- for this picture," and they got a ton of like great super funny responses on Twitter to captions for this photo that industrial strength Tide was used to put out this fire. Then they made a 30-second spot based on those user responses to captioning the photo and ran that as a television spot later. So the conversation has totally flipped from people on Twitter talking about ads they're seeing, to people on Twitter talking to the brand and then the brand creating an ad based on that conversation; so remarkably changing the way companies are thinking about marketing.
Here's another great example. Again, I talk about breaking down barriers of socioeconomic status, breaking down barriers to celebrity, and providing these real pictures of people as they are. This is a great example. During the NBA lockout last year, Kevin Durant, all-star player for Oklahoma City tweeted this, "Lock out is really boring; anyone playing flag football in Oklahoma City?" And this guy in a fraternity at Oklahoma State, I believe, "Got a game in Stillwater. I need a deep threat." [Laughter] And what happened was this. Oops, no. ^M00:41:51 [ Video Plays ] ^M00:42:07 It's amazing. You know, this guy from -- the guy in the fraternity in Oklahoma City was like tweeting the rest of the night like, "I can't believe this NBA all-star just showed up at our fraternity game because I sent this tweet to him." But that's just what -- this just doesn't happen. So, you know, and then that gets picked up and it's on ESPN. So there's all this fascinating changes when the playing field is completely leveled and everyone speaks with the same volume, right, and the same access.
So now I want to talk a little bit about unplanned events. So I've talked to you about broadcast events, and races, and basketball games, and the Olympics, and political debates and so forth. What about how Twitter's used -- what about this global digital agora during unplanned events? So a couple interesting events have sort of happened in the world in the last couple years in which Twitter's played an interesting role. And those include Hurricane Sandy, just recently, and then the earthquake and ensuing tsunami in Fukushima, Japan. And the interesting role it's played there is it starts to migrate from being a way to follow your interest to more of a emergency real-time news and communication platform. I think when we look at our users around the world, most of our big users, most of our net promoters in most countries think about Twitter primarily as a way to follow your interest or to keep up with the news, and secondarily as a way to communicate. During these unplanned events like these hurricanes, people start to think of it more primarily as a way to communicate. And, again, perspectives only help in that regard. So you see rumors dispelled. One of the fascinating things about the hurricane was you saw rumors emerge on Twitter, they were actually created on Twitter. People would tweet images of sharks in, you know, a flooded basement and then people would immediately tweet later on that those were just -- those were Photoshopped. So the rumors emerge, but the more people that are on Twitter the more quickly those rumors are dispelled. So you get this perspective of people who were on the scene and can say, "Here's what the subway looks like," but then you also get this -- talk about multiple perspectives, this is from about as far away as you can be, from one of the astronauts taking a picture of the hurricane from outer space in the aftermath of it.
And now I talked earlier about the fact that it's also -- it has a complement -- Twitter has this complimentary relationship to broadcast and journalism. Here's New York Times columnist, David Carr, asking how helpful diverting important dumb or hateful was Twitter last night for a piece I'm doing? So people started to respond. In fact, we just heard during the introduction that people are thinking Twitter more and more as a town's square as this agora. And here's a user who says, "Twitter was a pop-up town square for the Northeast US." And more and more and more and more people will start to respond to David Carr about how they use Twitter to communicate with each other, find out what was really going on, and dispel rumors about where power was on, where it was off, things that were on fire, things that weren't on fire. During the hurricane David Carr assembled all this feedback and wrote his piece based on it. So from broadcast medium, to broadcast medium, to broadcast medium we're seeing this fascinating, not only complementary relationship, but reinforcing relationship where the two things for a virtuous circle.
^M00:45:40 [ Music ] ^M00:45:55
So this is a visualization our engineers did inside Twitter of the moments after -- the minutes after the earthquake and ensuing tsunami in Fukushima, Japan. And what you saw there was instant -- keep in mind it's like 1 a.m., 2 a.m., 3 a.m., 4 a.m., 5 a.m., right, in lots of parts of the world, minutes, if not sooner, in the aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami the entire world knew about it, and was communicating back to people in Japan. Not only were the people in Japan communicating to each other, but the communication was global within seconds and minutes of the disaster. That's incredibly powerful and makes Twitter a super-important communication lifeline after emergencies like this. So one of the things we're doing is working directly with the government of Japan to create this -- we call it this "lifeline project," to enable Twitter to be a communications lifeline in cases of emergency like this, because it's the fastest and most efficient way to distribute your news of your personal situation as quickly as possible.
And we're doing things like making sure there are lists of government agencies that are already on the platform that people can follow in cases of emergency, and making sure that the government agencies know which hash tags they're going to use to communicate things like where power is on and where it's out, when the railways are running and when they aren't, on and on and on. Right; so instantaneously in the event of a disaster the government of Japan is a mechanism they can bring up on Twitter to communicate with people and allow those people to communicate with each other. Once we feel like we've got a good sense of how this is going to work in Japan, we'll of course take that capability around the world. We've already got governments in the UK and Spain and elsewhere wanting to leverage that. So I think that's fascinating, and one of the great things that does for us internally is it provides this amazing motivation about why we have to be successful as a company and why it's so important to do all the work we're doing and scaling our infrastructure.
Okay. So now kind of finally here, a couple last things, I want to talk about -- I have no idea how much time I have left. I've over? I'm just -- okay. There's nodding at me. That generally means like, "You went over a long time ago." So there are laws in a bunch of countries about the media and about media communications, right? One example that I'm going to talk to you about -- and I'll just give you one example, is this thing called "super injunction." So a super injunction is this capability -- it's kind of a injunction in the UK in which the following happens. If someone believes that there's something being said about them that might be said about them in the press, they can go to court and try to get one of these super injunctions. And a super injunction is essentially an injunction in which the court goes to the media and says, "You cannot talk about this particular rumor or news about this person." There was one in the UK a while ago about Ryan Giggs, the soccer player, and whether he had had an affair or not. I believe it was the news and then there was a super injunction in which the court went to the media and said, "You cannot talk about whether Ryan Giggs had an affair or not." But more interestingly, not only can you not talk about whether Ryan Giggs had an affair or not, you cannot talk about the fact that there is an injunction preventing you from talking about whether Ryan Giggs had an affair or not.
So it's particularly [inaudible] in the sense that you can't talk about the fact that there's an injunction preventing you from talking about that. There are things like this in the US too, right? There are lots of things like this. You'll get a court order that says, "Here's a court order. You have to comply with you can't talk about the fact that you got this court order." So the problem is this policy worked when broadcast news and information was distributed by a few media companies, "The Guardian," "The Times of London," "The BBC," and a couple others. What happened on Twitter, a user found out about the fact that there was a super injunction -- this particular super injunction, and they tweeted the rumor with has tag "Super Injunction." That's how quickly like this news spread across the UK on Twitter. The only people who weren't talking about it were the media companies who were prevented from talking about it. [Laughter] It turns out when you tell an entire country you can't talk about something, it doesn't work nearly so well as when you tell a few media companies you can't talk about something. Because the penalties for the media companies are obviously severe. You can't penalize the entire company -- country for talking about something.
And we see this over and over and over again. So there are all sorts of fascinating policy implications for law and local law. Nazi speech is forbidden in Germany. So we have to do things at Twitter like -- you know, it's obviously we're going to comply with the rule of law in the countries in which we operate. So when there's a take-down notice for a Tweet that originates in Germany that's got Nazi hate speech in it, what we have to do is when someone in Germany goes to click the "view that content," we'll say, "This content is not viewable in this particular geography because of an appropriate legal request," but it is viewable if you're in the US and you click on that tweet and you see it. So what we're trying to do at Twitter to balance these combination of local laws and we want to respect the rule of law in countries in which we operate, and these policies that are perhaps not as up to speed with the technology in other cases, is when we get requests from government for tweets that have to be -- that the government feels need to be taken down or information about users that the government feels that they should have access to, we do a couple things. One, we always try to protect our users' rights to not have forced distribution of their private information, so we always ask that we be allowed to alert the user and that they can protest that if they want. And then two, every request like this that we get we hand over to an organization called "Chilling Effects" that they then publish on their website so people can at least see transparently what's being requested of us. Okay. So this is just, you know, going to be an amazing thing for policy folks and legislatures and so forth to think about.
So I want to close with just this general perspective on Twitter that was provided by this artist, this Chinese artist, Ai Weiwei. So Ai Weiwei is the Chinese artist who designed the Bird's Nest building the beautiful Bird's Nest Stadium that was used in the Beijing Olympics. And he was actually imprisoned in China for using Twitter. We're blocked in China, but hundreds of thousands of Chinese citizens access Twitter through virtual private networks that they use to hop over the great firewall. And Ai Weiwei is one of them. [Laughter] It's good, right, the great firewall? It's not mine. I heard Eric Schmidt say it from Google and I use it all the time now. So Ai Weiwei says, "I think Twitter is my art and language version." And he did this amazing exhibit at the Tate Modern in London. And the exhibit you're actually looking at here. And from far away it just looks like a bunch of white pebbles that he threw in a room and like leveled out. And that's like -- I'll hear that about Twitter sometimes, like, "Ah, just seems like a lot of noise," because from far away if you're not in it, participating in it, following your interest and people you care about, it can look like a lot of noise. A half a billion tweets a day is really, really noisy. But a bunch of things happen as you get closer to this exhibit. You start to realize it's hundreds of millions of sunflower seeds. And they're ceramic sunflower seeds. And as you get even closer, you start to realize that they're ceramic sunflower seeds and that they're hand-painted. Each one of these is hand-painted. And they're all completely unique and different from each other.
And this is absolutely the way we think about Twitter. It gives a voice to everyone in the world, and it's a completely leveled playing field, and we all have equal access, and all of us can reach any of the other end points. But the real beauty of it is that as you get closer and closer and closer you see the three dimensionality and the uniqueness and the beauty to each one of those things. So that's why we say our vision for Twitter everyone in the company would tell you -- "What's your vision for Twitter," everyone in the company would tell you this, "Our vision for Twitter is Twitter brings you closer." Because when you're closer to all these other voices, you see that they're individuals with a unique perspective. Okay. Thank you very much. Thanks for coming. I'll take some questions. ^M00:54:59 [ Applause ] ^M00:55:13 Yes. I see my communications person left, so I must have said something I wasn't supposed to say. But that's all right. It happens all the time.
>> Erin Stratis: Hi. I'm Eric Stratis. I'm a student at the School of Information. And our first question is from Twitter. We were hoping you could talk a little bit more about activism, and specifically the idea of selectivism or how the convenience of the platform might undermine its impact.
>> Dick Costolo: Selectivism?
>> Eric Stratis: Yes.
>> Dick Costolo: That's a great one. I've never heard -- so like basically people who are like sitting around in their underwear at home like tweeting, you know, activist statements, or not. So here's how I think about that. There's an interesting, you know, two sides of the coin to activism on Twitter. On the one hand we had a while ago some very directed and specific conversations about anonymous user id's. So as you know, on Facebook or Google+ you have to sign up with your real name and use your real name, and everyone knows who you are. And on Twitter you can come into Twitter with an anonymous user ID. And we felt that was super important, because one of the things we saw in Tunisia at the beginning of the Arab Spring was that, I mean, look it's simply the case that there are some places where political speech is not only not tolerated, it's punished, and in some cases severely, right? And in Tunisia we saw that people who were organizing protests on Twitter -- and that's what Twitter and other social platforms were great for during Arab Spring was actually organizing protests. They were sending those tweets out with id's like #Slim404, right, because they don't want, you know, the police knocking on their door an hour later and saying, "Come with us." And in fact that's a real # handle. #Slim404, if you go look at his profile right now he's an interior minister in the new Tunisian government.
So the flip -- so that's great, and that's wonderful and we encourage that and we like the fact that if Twitter emboldens political speech. Of course the flip side to that and the flip side to the level playing field that everyone has a voice is it's very easy for people to sit at home behind an anonymous ID and lob, you know, trolling hateful comments out to people. You see that in places like -- we see it a lot in the UK around soccer games, soccer matches. A player misses a shot that would have like been an equalizer or sent the game into extra time, or they miss a penalty kick, those players get the most, you know, horrifying hateful speech directed at them from these anonymous users on Twitter. And then because it's a level playing field and you see all your app mentions and you see the entirety of the conversation, that stuff is right there in front of, you know, these players. And so one of the things we're trying to do internally is figure out how to deal with that, right, how do we keep the serendipity of discovering the new voice and the connection that would have never otherwise been made while not forcing people to have to sit there and just read 4,000 like you're a moron, all caps with ten, you know, vulgarities after that.
It turns out the beauty of the follow graph, and the follow graph was Twitter's I follow, you know, #XE. I follow #San Francisco Giants, et cetera; the beauty of the follow graph is it's fairly easy to start to figure out whether an account is new and doesn't have followers yet, or whether it's just simply a spamee [phonetic] unauthoritative, you know, account that's curling abuse at everybody else. So we're algorithmically working on ways of filtering out that hateful speech while making sure that descent and, you know, reasonable descent and discourse isn't filtered out. It's a hard problem. Yes.
>> Kelvin Yung: My name is Kelvin Yung and I'm a first-year master of public policy student. This question is from the audience. "Why 140 characters still?"
>> Dick Costolo: Still; so 140 characters is sacrosanct for sure. It started out because of the limitations of cross-network text messaging, particularly between the US and Canada where there was 160 character limitation on cross network text messaging, so we wanted 140 characters message, 15 characters for the # user ID that the tweet was coming from, and then 5 characters for something else we thought we would think of later to use it for that we've never come up with any interesting ideas around. [Laughter] We could obviously expand the length of it now too. It turns out that the 140 characters -- the beauty of 140 characters is the tremendous constraint it places on publishes, and the brevity and focus and economy of words you have to have in order to tweet 140 characters. And it does two interesting things. One, it makes it easier for everybody to tweet without having to feel like, "Oh, I don't have time to write a paragraph about this thing I'm seeing right now." It's just 140 characters so there's super low friction to publishing. But the secondary part of it is there is this poetry and the constraint of 140 characters that's really remarkable and magical, and we don't know why it is so we're not going to change it. But every time you talk to a comedian on the platform, again, Sarah Silverman, or Conan O'Brien or someone like that, they'll tell you, "I use Twitter to test out my jokes." And every time I write a joke that's too long my original reaction is, "God darned it, I wish I could try to --" you know, "I wish I could write a longer tweet, because I've got this great job, but the more I edit it to get it down 140 characters, it's always a better joke when I edit it down; always." So there's just something magical about it, and we'll never change it. We'll never change it.
>> Female: So our next question from Twitter is about VIT's and how often VIT's are actually the ones writing their tweets versus staff and what you think the consequences of having staff write for those people is.
>> Dick Costolo: Yes; great question. So the great thing about Twitter is it's almost always the people themselves. And I'll tell you a couple stories. So as I'm talking to someone who works with an athlete and they said, "He doesn't know what his password is to site X or site Y, but we don't know what his password is to Twitter." [Laughter] I won't talk about what site X or site Y were. But you can guess perhaps. So I think on Twitter specifically you've got these VIT's who feel like, "No way. This is my unfiltered direct voice to people, and it's going to be me not anybody else." And you see that from Kanye West, you see it from actors like Stephen Fry, on and on and on and on; Mike Tyson. You know, I could go -- you go through any genre and I could tell you it's almost always the people themselves. There are absolutely cases where staff does it, or helps out, perhaps in politics -- in the political sphere all the time. The best practice we've tried to foster around that is, "Look, when you're tweeting yourself at least tag your initials onto it, and then when it's not from you yourself, you know, people can start to get a sense for, 'Oh, this is from the team, and this one's from you yourself.'" So that allows you to -- you can still have someone who's helping you out, but every once in a while you can hop in yourself and tweet and make sure people really know that one's from you." You actually see that from Obama, right, he'll tag tweets with dash BO, and you know that one was from him himself, from not the staff.
I don't think it hurts anything to have it be the case that in some cases it's case who was tweeting that out. The great thing about this, again, I'll use the, "Twitter brings you closer" vision. When you've got this close-up perspective on everything, you can tell what -- people know when it's the staff, and that's fine. As long as, you know, the staff isn't really pretending to be, "Here, you know, on the brink of the mountain," and it's really, you know, you find out the guy was down in the jeep and it's the staff that's up there on the brink of the mountain. So people can detect that. It's when you make that inauthentic that people will go, "Okay. Like that's, you know, I don't buy that anymore. I'm out." In fact, we had a consumer electronics company in the US -- this is a couple years ago now, who had started using Twitter to do customer relationship management, basically answer questions people had about whether there was some problem with -- I know you're filtering these questions to me and I'm directing my answers only to you. I'll turn around here. [Laughter] Someone over there is going, "Wait a minute, that was my question." [Laughter] And so the customer relationship management department was using the platform to respond to these user requests. And then they got a bunch of followers. People were excited they could talk to this consumer electronics company now. And the marketing department jumped in and said, "Hey, we want to like start talking to these 50,000 people or 100,000 people now." And like the next message was this marketing message. They lost a ton of followers because people could immediately detect, "Wait a minute, this is not the tone of voice that this account was speaking with before, and it's someone pretending to be the people behind this account, and it's someone else now in it completely." People detect that inauthenticity super quickly, and because everyone is in the room together now it's much faster and easier to detect, and companies can't be -- you know, you can't be trying to snow or spin your audience anymore. That goes for politicians and everyone else.
>> Male: You talked earlier about the massive volume of tweets that are being sent now. Are we at that point where there's so much information that we're losing the quality of those interactions and thoughtfulness right now; and how does Twitter can sort of counter those effects?
>> Dick Costolo: Well, I think the volume of the information helps us, because it helps us do things like dispel rumors more quickly. The Guardian in the UK did a study around the London Riots where they determined that Twitter was particularly good at dispelling rumors that were being spread about the riots, even though it was also, to be perfectly frank, the source of some of the rumors. So people would say, "You know, there's the King's Cross Tube Station is on fire," and the more and more and more people that were on Twitter talking about the London Riots, the faster someone would take a photo of the King's Cross Tube Station and say, "I'm actually there right not and no, it's not." So I think that that volume only helps us. What we have to do, though, as more and more volume pours in, is a much better work algorithmically with our engineers of surfacing the very best signal. What we've tried to do around that is have particular instances on things like the Olympics when people are searching for hash tag Olympics. "Let's just show the very best tweets. We'll just show the tweets that the most people replied to and re-tweeted and favorited and then that will be the best of the best and we won't have all the noise. The problem when you do that is you lose the roar of the crowd, right; it's like the Brazil soccer game where Brazil scores a goal in the World Cup and everyone in Brazil tweets, "Goal." And if you went to Twitter and we only showed you the very, very, very best of the best tweets, you would just see, you know, "Brazil scored a goal, 1-0," and then, you know, nothing else, no other conversation, no other volume. So we need to find a way to keep the roar of the crowd while surfacing the best signal. So that's the big engineering and design challenge for us.
>> Female: Can you talk about why users aren't allowed to download their own tweet history?
>> Dick Costolo: Yes; I can talk about that. So the question is, "Why are users not allowed to download their tweet history?" It's funny, the question makes it sound like I won't let them. [Laughter] So here's the deal, so during the night of the presidential election, there was a point at which we were serving 1.3 million timelines. A timeline is my home timeline of all the tweets of the people I'm following; 1.3 million timelines per second. So keep in mind that's every second 1.3 million timelines going out that are threading together every single tweet that's coming in from around the world at 15,000 tweets per second, and organizing them in chronological order. So that architecture is really, really, really, really well-suited to real-time search and real-time distribution. It's really horribly suited to archive search and archive distribution. So if you wanted to do a search against our user database, our user db for that entire history, it would be so slow that it would slow down the rest of the real-time distribution of things. So what we're doing to enable users to download the entire archive history of their tweets is, as you can imagine, creating a different kind of archival system for these tweets. We're in the process of doing that now. And by the end of the year I've already promised this, so the engineers -- when I promised it publicly they're already mad at me so they can keep being mad at me. By the end of the year you'll be able to download the archive history of your entire tweets; you know, your entire tweet archive. [Applause] Yes. It's commonly requested feature. Now, again, once again, I caveat this with the engineers who are actually doing the work don't necessarily agree that they'll be done by the end of the year, but we'll just keep having that argument and we'll see where we end up year end.
>> Male: This is a combination of questions from the audience. We received a lot of questions about countries that censor information, in particular China. How well does Twitter work in countries where the government plays a significant role in censuring the information? And what steps, if any, has Twitter taken to address this restricted freedom?
>> Dick Costolo: Yes. So we're blocked in China and Iran. As I said, hundreds of thousands of users in China still access us through VPN's. In Iran we're not doing anything specifically. We do things when countries threaten to shut us down, or shut us down for a day or two because of some set of tweets that they found offensive. So in those cases we engage with those countries and try to have a dialogue with them about bringing the service back up. We always do that in a way that doesn't compromise our thoughts about the sanctity of users' private information for the fact they were going to show tweets that are legal to show in countries for those users. We will, as I said, respect the rule of law in a specific country that we operate about not showing those tweets that are against the law in that country to those users. So, again, the Germany case comes to mind. So focusing specifically on China and Iran, nothing we're doing in Iran right now. I don't think that we will do anything particularly to try to get on block there. In China, you know, I would like it to be the case that once the new government gets settled there, and once Xi Jinping gets settled in we could go to that government and talk to them. But we won't compromise the way Twitter works in order to operate within a country. You know, we won't start saying, "Okay," for example, "you can have government employees at the Twitter China office who see all the tweets and censor them when they go out if they don't like something, right, we won't do that. So hopefully we can get to a point where everyone realizes that hey, all this information being broadcast in public and available and being able to see what your citizens are saying, is actually a good thing and a helpful thing.
^M01:10:52 [ Silence ] ^M01:10:57
>> Female: How do you think the recent developments in the ability to work with and analyze big data have impacted Twitter and its operations?
>> Dick Costolo: Hmm; significantly. So, you know, we have a bunch of Hadoop engineers. Hadoop is the software we use to store -- do all our big data and big data analytics. I think there are all sorts of fascinating work that researchers, institutions and academics can do on our data to understand interesting things, like how effective is Twitter at dispelling rumors was an interesting one that I mentioned that the Guardian did. We have all sorts of researchers from universities across this country analyzing the corpus of -- massive corpus of tweets we have to try to understand patterns that emerge about how people communicate with each other and how conversations and means get started, how to distinguish means that are spamee from means that are organic and things like that. So I think it will be, you know, interesting and fascinating to see the kinds of things that people do with the data. One of the really cool jobs really that's emerging from big data are visualization, data visualization or interaction design around big data. So you saw the Japan earthquake visualization we did. We have a couple designers in house who work with a couple of our big data analytics engineers on, "What's the best way to visualize this amazing thing we saw in the numbers last night?" That's kind of a cool thing that never existed before, right? And that teams has -- that very, very small team has built a ton of fascinating visualizations for us internally that we've started showing more and more externally. I think that will become a really cool kind of job to have, and a new job.
>> Male: This is the last question that we have time for today, and maybe this will bring us back to before you started your talk about the digital agora and giving us some advice. What's the most important advice that you've ever received?
>> Dick Costolo: Oh, questions like that are so hard. [Laughter] The most important advice I ever received was the advice I gave to you guys at the beginning of my discussion. And it was in Steve Jobs' commencement address at Stanford University that I was not privy to seeing but red. And he talked about the fact that he dropped out of school -- I'm giving all these like -- he talked about the fact that he dropped out of school [laughter] and went to study typography and fonts, and you know, that really ended up becoming -- that foundation of his understanding of typography and fonts became the basis of the competitive advantage of Apple Computer and the Macintosh over, you know, IBM and Microsoft, and really the beachhead from which Apple Computer expanded. And he made that point to highlight to the students that, you know, he didn't plan to get where he was based on, "Well, I'll go study some typography and that will be how I create my beachhead against IBM," right? That's not how he got there. His point was, "You can only connect the dots looking backward. You can't connect the dots looking forward." So it makes no sense to live your life according to some -- either somebody else's ideas for what you should go do, or your own preconceived notions about in order to get to this, I need to go do this and this first. It only makes sense to do what you want to do and be -- and what you're passionate about because that will be how you end up in a place where looking back you can connect the dots and see that you landed where you wanted to land. And I mean, let me tell you, you are not going to hear from anyone who that's more true of than me. So that would be my advice to everybody in the room. All right; thanks very much. Thanks for coming. I really appreciate everybody's time.
^M01:15:03 [ Applause ] ^M01:15:15
>> Susan Collins: Well, unfortunately we are out of time. I would like to thank the School of Information for co-hosting this event with the Ford School. They have been terrific partners. I would like to thank all of you for joining us here this afternoon. I hope that you will come and join us for other policy talks that the Ford School hosts. And most importantly, I am so pleased, once again, to thank our speaker, Mr. Dick Costolo, for choosing the University of Michigan to present that fascinating and really inspiring presentation about where Twitter came from and so many thoughts about how it's used and where it might be going. And so just a final round of thanks if you'd like to join me.
^M01:15:58 [ Applause ] ^M01:16:09 Dick, the university -- on behalf of the University of Michigan we are so proud with our connection with you. We hope that you have a wonderful stay here in Ann Arbor. We hope you come back and visit us again soon. And again, thank all of you for coming and joining us. Go Blue.