How did this seemingly trivial application created in two weeks by Jack Dorsey back in March 2006 as a way for him to know what his friends were doing grow into this global phenomenon? We think it is because of three critical things:

First, the design. Twitter’s design is simple, modular, scalable and cross-platform. Instant messaging used to be a youth-dominated phenomenon, but just walk into any business meeting and think about how similar tweeting is to BlackBerry-ing. As social animals, we humans are addicted to communication and understanding how our social group is acting and thinking. In business this is very practical — and in social settings, it is very entertaining.

Second, Twitter has an open technical architecture. …

Third, and perhaps most importantly, it is very easy for people to join, and to self-organize around topics, companies, individuals, and events. In this sense it is an incredibly “democratic” medium — with all the control at the ends of the network. Our Diamond Fellow David Reed wrote in the Harvard Business Review many years ago about the power of self-forming networks, so potent because of their innate flexibility.

These points are very well taken. I’d add a few more such as Twitter’s speed (e.g. compared to Facebook), as well as various social aspects and gestures. Working on a post to sum it all up in a handy package…

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