London is the capital of Twitter, says founder @ev

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Twitter was featured on the BBC’s Newsnight programme last night. There weren’t any great revelations about the service, however the confirmation from the CEO that London remains the top Twitter-using city in the world is pretty interesting. This was indicated last year, but it is surprising that, a year on, London has retained this top slot, which just goes to show how popular it is in the UK overall.

Aside from that, the report it did provide a sort of “101” introduction to the service – although it was quite simplistic. That’s pretty much British TV reporting about tech in a nutshell.

[More after the jump]

Prior to a pre-recorded interview with Ev Williams, CEO and co-founder of Twitter, they ran a report in which the editor of Wired UK said he didn’t know what the business model of Twitter was. He obviously hasn’t been reading TechCrunch, because the options are pretty clear: Verified accounts, Search/Content Ads, Sponsored Tweets, “Adsense Widgets” and payments. David, where have you been?

We recorded the whole segment, above, but the main interview has been helpfully uploaded by the Beeb:

The interview with @Ev was a mix of Kirsty Wark’s questions and some rather awkwardly put point submitted by viewers.

What was special about Twitter, she asked?

Well we stood on the shoulders f giants, said Ev, neglecting to mention he came up with Blogging (Blogger) before ‘microblogging”.

Why is Twitter so popular in the UK?

We definitely noticed that the UK exploded in Twitter use, he said, adding that London is the top twittter city as of today and the UK is second only to the US in terms of numbers of users.

Does Twitter create a false sense of community? (Yes, that old chesnut). It’s not false, it allows people to communicate and is no less false than using the phone, he said.

But is this not an amorphous mass of anonymous people taking to celebrities? Er, no, said Ev – you have famous people but it turns out friends talk to each-other and people get news. Next!

Kirsty then turned to the hot topic of the day. But how do we verify who the celebs are?! Like Demi Moore?!

Well, said Ev, nonchalantly, her real account is MrsKutcher and I verified her, er, manually. “I talked to her.”

“Demi and Ash”, he continued, found that Twitter was useful to talk to fans without the media getting involved. (At this point it’s a shame the interview hadn’t been a) live, b) done by Jeremy Paxman, who would have spat at thought that the media would suddenly no longer be involved).

Is Twitter going to replace journalism?

It’s not journalism in the classic sense but it does enable people to report news events from the ground, said Ev. But you still need journalists to verify the information. (Phew).

Did you delay maintenance during the Iran election protests?

We did delay technical work, he said. It happened to be a key time in Iran, so we ended up putting it off. Lots of people asked them to do it, including the State Department but “But that’s not why we did it.” They thought it was the best thing to do to keep the information flow going.

Lastly, the coup de grace.

“Are you worried about the Archibishop Nicholls?” said Wark.

Ev wasn’t aware of the criticism by the Archbishop that tools like Twitter were de-humanising. “It’s kinda silly” he said. “It’s about humans connecting with each other. It’s the opposite of de-humanising.” Kerpow!

Is Twitter a fad?

“It’s only a fad if someone comes along and does it better,” said Ev. And with that he was gone.

  • Kristofor Lawson

    The report actually mentioned that twitter was just 140 characters at the start of the report… better go back over it and check :) A great introduction to the service though.

    • Anand

      Heck, can’t he wear something better for a BBC interview..

      • Omnibus

        Heck, can’t we expect something better than twitter from the tech community.

        Twitter = pointless, ev = hypemachine dbag

  • Calvin Robinson

    I think that says something about London2.0 ;-)

    • tenthings

      or maybe people in SF are busy actually living their lives

    • Troy Peterson

      It’s not surprising to me…
      Just look at the comparison of SMS adoption in London compared to the USA as a whole.

      I was working for a Cellular company back in the late 1990’s – Early 2000’s. Most major US carriers and customers had yet to embrace the use of 160 characters.

      If I remember right, it was similar to what was being expressed by doubters of Twitter… “who will use it”, or “what can you do with 140 characters”.

  • Aidan Fitzpatrick

    That’s funny, I thought we were all in Tehran…

  • pjebsen's status on Thursday, 06-Aug-09 09:54:13 UTC -
  • cyberdoyle

    auntie has a long way to go to catch up with the world… soz. global village.

    • tenthings

      she was awesome. williams looked puzzled and kind of awkward – well it was about time he gave some real answers

  • Mahammed

    And so the Muslims got their own Twitter too, .

  • Alexander

    Not to offend you Mr Butcher but your tv is shite.

    • Mike Butcher

      It’s a long story ;-)

  • Adam

    Maybe the editor of Wired isn’t reading TechCrunch because he likes his news to be unbiased, verifiable and non-sensationalist.

    • hitesh

      To their credit, techcrunch has been much, much better recently. MG and Paul Carr are fantastic, and even Michael has toned it down quite a bit from his Ron Artest days.

  • Jonathan Markwell

    London is also the home of the world’s first Twitter developer meetups. We’ve got around 60 people already signed up to attend our fourth event on the 26th August:

    @mario will be telling the story of TwitterFeed and we’ll have a video link to Twitter HQ for Q&A with @rsarver from Twitter’s platform team.

  • Glyn Moody (glynmoody) 's status on Thursday, 06-Aug-09 10:38:25 UTC -
  • Matt

    Whatever head quarter it is I do not care unless as long as my twitter remains alive. I love twitter man, I just love it. Rather I am addicted to it.

  • Joe Dawson

    Twitter is so popular in the UK because we’re renowned for complaining so Twitter gives us a voice to get heard.

    I live in the capital of Twitter, I live the Web 2.0 dream…

    • tenthings

      you brits are on the top ranks of every social network. you seem to have lots of complaints

      • Mike Butcher

        We like talk about the weather. A lot.

      • Omnibus

        And, you’re all boring, stuck on a dreary island, with nothing better to do. People who use twitter have lots of cats and frquently drool on thselves.

  • Jesse Farmer

    Is it really that surprising? London’s population is almost 10x that of San Francisco.

    Twitter users per capita would be the statistic that says something about how “Twitter crazed” a city is.

  • hassan cheema

    dear readers twitter is a very useful site and much informative.i m its daily based user and suggest u to visit it regularly for being updated.

  • David King

    Good report, however I think a better measure of uptake would be to use % of population instead of just # of users. The US has some 5x more people than the UK.

    If the UK had 100% uptake, and the US only had 21% the US would be ahead in terms of numbers, but not in popularity – important to remember these sorts of things!

  • Bastian Lehmann

    Better trailer without the blurry face:

    • Bastian Lehmann

      Sorry posted this to the wrong article :)

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  • antje wilsch

    too bad twitter has been down for a while for me now….

  • dougan

    Really, it makes a lot of sense – Twitter’s popularity in the UK. Even the reporting methods used in the quoted article are proof in point.

    UK loves their gossip; loves their banter; loves their grapevine. Generally stems from an island mentality and a long history of a very public Royal Family. Not calling it good or bad… it is what it is.

    Twitter is an excellent platform for such things.

  • Jack

    I take it this isn’t a good thing…?

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