Hashtags and Characters   Leave a comment

I have a Twitter account, but don’t tweet. Reading Hatching Twitter: A True Story of Money, Power, Friendship, and Betrayal by Nick Bilton did nothing to encourage me to embrace this social media leviathan. I was curious about Bilton’s book because I teach an Internet Media class. Undeniably, Twitter has a huge role in how society communicates. Journalists around the world demonstrate its use as a significant tool to report news. I appreciate that. However, it’s disconcerting that stories, whether personal or professional, can be condensed to 140 characters or less.

Nonetheless, Bilton’s book, while not as objective as expected from a New York Times reporter, provides insight into Twitter’s short history. All of the major players and how they became part of the little blue bird’s universe are introduced. Although many others are featured, the focus is on the four identified as Twitter’s co-founders: Evan “Ev” Williams, Jack Dorsey, Christopher “Biz” Stone, and Noah Glass. Bilton is sympathetic in his account of Glass’s involvement, which was short lived. Williams and Stone are profiled in a positive light compared to Dorsey who’s mocked for his Steve Jobs-wanna-be approach and his alone-at-the-end-of-the-day consequences.

The manner in which the story’s told is appealing. Starting in 2010 with Williams about to announce his departure as Twitter’s CEO, Bilton then offers the true beginning in 1997. The account is similar to a mystery without the murder, but plenty of intrigue and backstabbing. The reader knows what’s going to happen, but not necessarily how.

Hatching Twitter: A True Story of Money, Power, Friendship, and Betrayal
Almost Four Bookmarks
Portfolio/Penguin, 2013
302 Pages

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