Twitter Has a Few Existential Worries

New York's Joe Hagan details Twitter's very real problems monetizing content

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We've been hearing plenty about how Twitter, though boasting a lot of users, is bewildered about how to monetize the torrent of information shared on the service. And New York magazine's latest cover story finds the company on familiar terrain in its airy San Francisco headquarters--grappling with "existential questions, starting with the most basic one possible: What is Twitter?" Really. Even the pictured above co-founder, Jack Dorsey, is quoted uttering such grandoise things like "we are building Twitter for all of them [humanity]. They evolve, and so do we."

The dilemma, as reported by the magazine's Joe Hagan, boils down to how the micro-blogging service cultivates its existing clientele while making the product accessible to the many spectators on the service. And there's this stunning statistic: "A study conducted by sociologists working for Yahoo concluded that 50 percent of all the tweets come from just 20,000 users," Hagan writes. This "media-celebrity-blogger elite" (as the researcher behind the study deemed these users), has different preferences than those who aren't enthusiastically promoting themselves or breaking news. Which leads back to the the difficulty of monetization:

What's great about Twitter, as opposed to its competitors Google+ and Facebook, is that it's a free-for-all, with few rules, welcoming anyone and anything—it can be unpredictable and wild. But the danger is the Wild West becomes so many digital strip malls. And who'd want to spend time there?

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.