Blogger, Twitter founder’s new blogging Medium



I have been meaning to write about Evan Williams’ new blogging platform, Medium, ever since it was thrown open to everyone last month.  Now it’s got written about in The New York Times.

“A founder of Twitter goes long,” says the headline – in reference to the posts being published on Medium, which can run to hundreds of words.It is the polar opposite of Twitter, where you can tweet only up to 140 characters at a time.

One could say Williams is going back to his original vision, Blogger, which he launched in 1999 and which was acquired by Google in 2003, where one can blog posts of any length.

Medium is free to use like Blogger. You can write on it free of charge. Just sign in with Twitter and verify your email address.

So should you start blogging on Medium? [Read more...]

Twitter founders’ feuds and fortunes

Twitter founders (from left) Jack Dorsey, Biz Stone, Evan Williams with CEO Dick Costolo

Twitter founders (from left) Jack Dorsey, Biz Stone, Evan Williams with CEO Dick Costolo

Twitter founders Jack Dorsey, Biz Stone and Evan Williams smiled happily as they posed for pictures with CEO Dick Costolo at the New York Stock Exchange as their little bird flew off to a dream start on the stock market.

But they have not been the best of friends. Dorsey, who was forced out by Williams, is now chairman of  the company. Williams, who was ousted as CEO in 2010, is a director of the company and its biggest shareholder.

New York Times tech columnist Nick Bilton describes  their power struggle in a new book, Hatching Twitter: A True Story of Money, Power, Friendship and Betrayal. [Read more...]

Twitter: Breaking news on Osama, Mumbai attack and more

I was surprised to read that Giga Om founder Om Malik, one of the most perceptive tech bloggers, thought Twitter was a waste of time when he first saw it. But that was in 2006 when Twitter had just been created by Jack Dorsey.

“At first, Twitter appealed mainly to techies. Nobody else really noticed it much until November 2008 when a terrorist takeover of fancy hotels in Mumbai flooded the site with tweets about what was happening, way ahead of any news bureau reports,” recalls Mary Cross in her book, Twitterati, Bloggerati: How Blogs and Twitter Are Transforming Popular Culture.

I was certainly using Twitter by 2008 though I can’t recall when I became a Twitter user. Here’s one of my posts on the Pakistani terrorist attack on Mumbai based on information I got from Twitter. 

It was on Twitter that I first heard about the death of Osama bin Laden. I was up surfing the net that night — May 2, 2011, according to Wikipedia — when US Navy Seals swooped down on the al-Qaeda leader’s hideout in Abbottabad, Pakistan. It was hours after the first report that his death was officially confirmed. Here’s what I blogged that day, using Storify, about the man who tweeted the hit on Osama bin Laden.

The memories come back to me as Twitter prepares to go public with an IPO like Facebook did in May 2012.

Giga Om notes: “Twitter’s note that this is a confidential filing means the company’s annual revenue is less than $1 billion.” But it adds that “the company has recently received bids from hedge funds offering to buy shares in the company from employees and investors for between $26 and $28 a share, which would value Twitter at $14 billion. The company has raised just under $1 billion in funding over the last several years.”

I love Twitter as a news junkie. It’s the quickest way to get the news. With over 500 million registered users, it still lags behind Facebook, which has over a billion. But it is certainly the second most talked about social network.

Google+ is also said to have 500 million registered users. So, which is the second most powerful network (after Facebook) — Google+ or Twitter — may be open to question. Google+ may be more useful for bloggers since it is linked to Google, the most popular search engine. The blogger’s Google+ profile may show up with his blog post on Google search. That will increase his visibility.

Twitter, on the other hand, is more useful as a news source. When you want the new fast, you go on Twitter.

I admire Twitter’s co-founders, Evan Williams and Biz Stone. Williams also set up Pyra Labs, which launched Blogger in 1999. So he has created two of the most popular online platforms, Blogger and Twitter. Biz Stone was also associated with Blogger. Blogger and Pyra Labs were bought by Google in 2003.

I just wish it were possible to do longer searches on Twitter. For example, find the original tweet by the Pakistani IT consultant Sohaib Athar, who first tweeted about US helicopters in Abbottabad without even realizing they were out to get Osama. Twitter is great at breaking news. I wish Twitter were also good at preserving history.

You never can tell who will tell you the news

You never know who will be the first to give you the news in this world of social media.

The first report on President Barack Obama’s meeting with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong came not from the White House or the Singapore government or Singapore media.

And it wasn’t the Singapore media or a major broadcaster or wire service that first reported Singapore had voted in favour of a global arms trade treaty.

[Read more...]

Google+, minus Google Reader

Google Reader is being shut down because people are not sharing enough content on Google+, says a former Google Reader product manager. The Reader was being kept alive to drive content to Google+, but it did not do so, says Brian Shih, speaking from his own experience.

Google’s big hit in social media has been YouTube rather than Google+. In a blog post last week, YouTube announced: “YouTube now has more than a billion unique users every single month.”

Powering this growth, it said, is Gen C (C stands for content) – youngsters born between 1988 and 1993 — who, according to the Google Agency Blog, watch YouTube “on all screens, all the time”.

That brings YouTube neck and neck with Facebook which reports “more than a billion active users as of December 2012.” [Read more...]

From Nipplegate to quipping and tweeting

Google should have blocked the YouTube video insulting Prophet Muhammad which led to  the anti-US fury in the Muslim world and the death of the US ambassador to Libya. But, at the same time, we need a lively social media.

Facebook surely erred in temporarily shutting down the New Yorker Facebook page over what the magazine called Nipplegate.  What’s so objectionable about this New Yorker cartoon showing Adam and Eve?

New Yorker Adam and Eve

New Yorker Adam and Eve

[Read more...]

India gets Twitter to block accounts

The Indian government gets Twitter to block several accounts which were apparently not to its liking. Not all the accounts had anything with the Hindu-Muslim violence which, according to the government, was caused by hate messages on Twitter. Some of the accounts blocked parodied the tweets sent by the Prime Minister’s Office. Here Storified are reports, reactions and tweets from some of the accounts. The New York Times said: “The government, used to exerting significant control over media like newspapers, films and television, has in recent months been frustrated in its effort to extend similar and greater regulations to Web sites, most of which are based in the United States.” [Read more...]

India wants Twitter to block PM parody accounts

The ethnic violence in India has given the government a chance to settle scores with Twitter. It not only wants Twitter to delete the hate messages which led to the violence but also block accounts which spoof the Prime Minister’s office. The Times of India reports:

The sites that got PMO’s goat are parody accounts with similar sounding names like @PM0India (O has been replaced with a zero), @Indian_pm and @PMOIndiaa. Blocking the six accounts is seen as a warning that the government will not allow misrepresentation of a high office like PMO.

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s office uses the Twitter handle @PMOIndia.

The NDTV news channel reports:

The Prime Minister’s Office wrote to Twitter two months ago, asking that six accounts be blocked.

In other words, the government wanted the parody accounts blocked before the ethnic violence.

The Times of India adds:

A PMO official said the government was not overreacting. “We are fine with parody, even though at times it is in bad taste, and there is criticism of the government. But we cannot allow anyone to misrepresent the PM’s office and tweet nonsense from these accounts,” he said.

“The trigger for the latest move was when one of these accounts recently tweeted communally-sensitive statements aimed at inciting social strife,” said the official. Sources said ISPs have been roped in to block the accounts locally. Incidentally, several months ago, Twitter came out with a tool it claimed would allow it to block tweets or accounts on a country-basis.

A look at the sites shows they lack the finesse or biting humour of a popular takeoff on the PM like @dryumyumsingh, but do not seem to be currently posting vicious material – at least as of now. @dryumyumsingh may be left alone but others like @PM0India could be blocked.

Here Storified is what people are saying on Twitter. [Read more...]

Twitter and the 2008 Mumbai blast

Twitter turned six years old on March 21. On March 21, 2006, Twitter creator  Jack Dorsey published his first tweet: “just setting up my twttr”. But at first it appealed only to techies. It became a major source of news only two years later, when Pakistani terrorists attacked Mumbai on November 26, 2008, says Mary Cross in her book on social media. [Read more...]

Google censoring blogs just as India wanted

Google has started censoring blogs just as India wanted The news comes just a week after Twitter announced a similar move.

Just as Tweeter can block tweets from being seen in countries where they fall foul of local laws, so can Google block access to Blogger blogs in specific countries which want them removed.

Google is introducing a country-specific URL scheme for Blogger blogs. An internet user in India, for example, trying to access a blog with the URL may be redirected to

Google has already made the change in India, Australia and New Zealand. [Read more...]