What does Twitter mean to you?
For people like myself who use Twitter to follow news, broadcast from events and connect with possible subjects, it is an indispensable tool. It is hard to believe it is only five years old. It seems so ubiquitous in Silicon Valley.
Twitter co-founder Biz Stone at the company's headquarters
It reminds me of the time as a junior reporter working for a BBC rival when I got sent out to cover a murder in North London with the aid of one of the first mobile phones. It was the size of a brick and weighed a ton.
Previous to that "mobile" era, I would have to find a red phone box to file copy and then take the phone apart to attack crock clips to feed audio down the line.
Now with my trusty BlackBerry, I rarely log onto my BBC PC and do everything via the phone. Especially tweet. Which takes me back to where I started this conversation.
When I spoke to co-founder Biz Stone, he described this birthday much like sending a child off to school.
"It's so crazy, it just doesn't feel like five years have passed. We were sitting up here [at Twitter HQ]: me, Jack [Dorsey] and Ev [Williams] in front of the company talking about what we were doing and the fun stuff and messages between Jack and me when we were building the first prototype. I think one of the first SMS text messages I sent was 'come here Watson, I need you'."
"The other day someone asked 'you are five-years-old, what does that mean to you?' and I said the image popped into my head of a five-year-old getting ready to go to kindergarten. We are at that point where we are at the beginning of a life of adventure."
For the last couple of weeks Jack Dorsey, who had been noodling on this kind of idea since early 2001, has been digging through his archives and tweeting his thoughts, memories and copies of the tweets and IM's that passed between the team. See them on his stream here. They make for fascinating reading.
Contrary to popular belief, the first tweet was not "just setting up my twttr", which was an automated message. Instead, Jack revealed the first message was "inviting workers". While it doesn't hold a candle to "one small step for man" it will go down in the history books nonetheless.
If you want to see what other people were tweeting about back then, go here. Jack's plea to ask people to dig into their own archives helped get the #5yrs hashtag into trending topics.
So as the once commonly referred to micro-blogging service grows up as an information and communications platform, what does Twitter mean to you?
It was a question I asked all the founders. Naturally answers conform to the 140 character rule. Biz Stone had this to say:
@Biz: Twitter means connecting with those things I find most meaningful in life and it really has been true.
As an example he cited trying to find out details about what was going on in Japan and the fall out from the nuclear reactor at Fukishima. He was looking for specific answers and not the generalisations he was finding everywhere else and said he found them thanks to Twitter.
Evan Williams replied with this:
@Ev: Twitter means having a direct link to the minds of hundreds of the people I most admire on the planet--and millions more I've yet to know.
And Jack Dorsey tweeted:
@jack: The best technologies make us more human. Twitter enables one to take what was once unapproachable & complex, and makes it human, instantly.
So what does Twitter mean to you? No more than 140 characters please.