Bizarre Flashback: How People Thought About Twitter in 2007


Boy, just when you think you understand the passage of time, along comes a TV news clip about Twitter from 2007. In between guffaws about the name, a reference to the 2008 Presidential election (John Edwards!), and calling Robert Scoble a "master blogger," Robert Lyles's report manages to remind us how social a tool Twitter really is. Scoble had no idea how Twitter would end up being used, and neither did anyone else. But he nailed the most important thing, which is that it would become an important piece of the tech landscape.

As for Lyles, would you consider this a good description of Twitter, "an addictive concoction of blogs, Google Maps, personal websites, and text messaging." Google Maps?

Thanks to Rebecca Greenfield, you video haters (I know you're out there!) can just take in the weird via this transcript:

DANA: Forget blogging and MySpace if you really want to stay connected there is a new service and supposedly it's the next big thing, and it's a name you can't forget, it's called Twitter (ha) Robert Lyles is in San Jose, so what makes twitter so different?

ROBERT LYLES: Dana it's an incredibly strange thing. There's a series of questions that are generated by this, and the first is: is it possible that making a cell phone call could soon become a thing of the past? And is it possible that the ever popular MySpace, even blogging, are slowly being eaten by this thing called a Twitter? You're about to learn what a twitter is and you're also about to learn how it is slowly worming its way into our presidential campaign.

ROBERT SCOBLE(IZER): It's stupid and lame and small.

LYLES (as disembodied newsman voice): Yet Master Blogger Robert Scoble can't keep his fingertips off.

SCOBLEIZER: It's, uh, real addictive.

LYLES: And, users are popping up all over the globe.

SCOBLEIZER: You can see how fast they are coming up here, [several seconds pass without a user popping up] I mean while we've been here there has been constant flow of new twitters on the Twitter map.

LYLES: That's right the latest cyber drug of choice is called Twitter, an addictive concoction of blogs, Google maps, personal websites, and text messaging all bottled into one network and delivered to users in real time.

SCOBLEIZER: Three weeks ago I had 90 followers and today I have more than 2000 followers.

LYLES: But here's the twist, users no longer need a pc or a blog, messaging can be typed by cell phone. That's its selling point.

SCOBLEIZER: You can only type 140 characters and that's actually what makes it real attractive for groups.

LYLES: Now anywhere from 2 friends to 2000 friends can know where you are every minute of every hour of every day.

BIZ STONE: 60-70 thousand new messages coming in per day.

LYLES: Twitter was created in just two weeks by Obvious Corporation, the cyberalchemist just introduced the network at a tech convention earlier this month, since then messaging has sky rocketed from 20,000 to 70,000 posts.

STONE: In a way it's a blessing because it means that performance is job one right now.

LYLES: They won't say how many twitters are tweaking over their network or their profit potential, but the financial times is keeping up, so is Democratic candidate John Edwards who is using Twitter to attract voters and keep supporters abreast of his every move. We found even our moves were being tracked.

SCOBLEIZER: I twittered that "Hey I am on CBS news right now," and this is live, all over the world people can talk back.

LYLES: Well some tech critics call the network lame, they're even describing some of the users at twits, despite its popularity most of the postings are banal, like tonight there was a posting from someone saying I'm just making a protein shake', or 'waiting for my girlfriend to get out of the bath' [Transcriber's note: Poor guy.] and it certainly generates a question, do we need to know that much information about the people in our lives in 140 characters or less, alright back to Dana.

DANA: No, that's the answer No. Robert, in San Jose, thank you.

Becca Greenfield contributed reporting and transcription to this story.

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Alexis C. Madrigal

Alexis Madrigal is the deputy editor of He's the author of Powering the Dream: The History and Promise of Green Technology. More

The New York Observer has called Madrigal "for all intents and purposes, the perfect modern reporter." He co-founded Longshot magazine, a high-speed media experiment that garnered attention from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the BBC. While at, he built Wired Science into one of the most popular blogs in the world. The site was nominated for best magazine blog by the MPA and best science website in the 2009 Webby Awards. He also co-founded Haiti ReWired, a groundbreaking community dedicated to the discussion of technology, infrastructure, and the future of Haiti.

He's spoken at Stanford, CalTech, Berkeley, SXSW, E3, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and his writing was anthologized in Best Technology Writing 2010 (Yale University Press).

Madrigal is a visiting scholar at the University of California at Berkeley's Office for the History of Science and Technology. Born in Mexico City, he grew up in the exurbs north of Portland, Oregon, and now lives in Oakland.

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