Overcast

Winnipeg, MB

10°c Overcast

Full Forecast

Books

Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Twitter co-founder's bio brings too-polished pearls of wisdom

Posted: 04/5/2014 1:00 AM | Comments: 0

Last Modified: 04/5/2014 8:06 AM | Updates

Advertisement

  • Print
Biz Stone's book could use more behind-the-scenes stories and fewer uplifting generalizations.

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS FILES Enlarge Image

Biz Stone's book could use more behind-the-scenes stories and fewer uplifting generalizations.

Twitter co-founder Biz Stone's self-penned bio has the prose of a good tweet. Entertaining, conversational and easily readable, Things a Little Bird Told Me fuses memoir, self-help and non-fiction study as Stone recounts Twitter's creation and meteoric rise as a communication tool.

And like a tweet -- particularly one trying to be three things at once -- it has limits.

There's a crafted positivity to Stone's voice and careful curation of personal stories that together keep the book from really gripping as a memoir.

It's possible Stone is the ever-smiling creative who can describe quitting Google to join a podcasting startup with, "Livy and I were instantly back on our way to credit card debt. But hey, it wouldn't have been a true leap of faith in myself if the stakes hadn't been high." In describing co-founder Evan Williams' firing, Stone muses "We'd built this company together. And he was my friend. It was very difficult to process what was happening."

But he's not relatable. In the rare moments of conflict Stone includes from Twitter's ascent and his financially chancy childhood, his reaction is never less than idealistic and exemplary. It's hard to see the user under the handle.

Partly to blame is his open agenda of empowering readers with lessons learned along his rags-to-retweets journey. Frequently pointing to his payoff for pursuing a passion, Stone gives over whole chapters to drawing out a memory's moral, from crashing his own prom to the code of assumptions he drew up for Twitter employees ("There's more smart people out there than in here," among others).

Nuggets of wisdom he draws are encouraging, uplifting generalizations. They're pleasant, but coming from an industry that's produced a handful of Biz Stones and many more crashes, they're easy to dismiss.

Stone's standout exception, which packs empirical evidence with a positive punch, is flocking. The hive-mind behaviour that birds have demonstrated for eons now finds expression in the human race, thanks to platforms such as Twitter, says Stone.

The results tilt to the constructive, from live-tweeting disaster reports to enabling democratic revolution. The proof isn't just in one man's story -- it's in daily headlines, and gives weight to Stone's refresh of the optimistic chant, "People are good at heart."

The discussion of how Twitter dovetails with human psychology, how features such as hashtags and retweets emerged, and how the company initially tried to remain government-neutral are fascinating, with in-the-room stories given vivid, tight retellings.

It's subject matter begging for more in-depth discussion from a Twitter co-founder, particularly the gripping topics of data mining and government surveillance. But Things a Little Bird Told Me veers away from the grit of meaty discussion to stay light, happy and simple.

Too bad. I can already get that on Twitter.

 

Matt TenBruggencate is a CTV writer who tweets from @tenbruggencate #plug

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 5, 2014 G8

History

Updated on Saturday, April 5, 2014 at 8:06 AM CDT: Tweaks formatting.

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories? Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.