Daily Dose of Inspiration3/7

by Joshua Millage

Twitter’s meteoric rise to ubiquity is proof positive that the world, in all its complexity, is eager to embrace simplicity. Wielding more impact on social networking than most communication tools this generation has yet seen, Twitter is one of those universal phenomena where the product name self-conjugates. To engage with Twitter is to “tweet.”

Biz Stone, one of the firm’s co-founders and director of communications, never imagined that this real-time short messaging service would have such immediate impact on how people communicate. Twitter lets everyone within a network of contacts know what is going on in each others’ lives, from the mundane to the dramatic. Limited to 140 characters, Twitter messages, traveling over multiple networks and devices, have touched the lives of families needing help during natural disasters, strangers becoming friends, and politicians reaching out to their constituents.

At the uniquely styled Twitter office–the top floor of an old warehouse South of Market in downtown San Francisco, where flocks of birds are appliquéd on the walls and healthy lunches are served family style–the Mac is everywhere and Apple solutions enable creativity on a daily basis. In keeping with the casual, open office theme, Twitter’s common areas are equipped with Mac mini and iMac systems, Bluetooth keyboards and mice for presentations and demonstrations, and Apple Cinema Displays.

Forging connections

Twitter started out as a simple idea, when co-founder and chairman of the board Jack Dorsey thought it might be a useful concept to consolidate instant message status like “getting coffee,” or “too busy to chat” into a social networking tool that subsequently became a phenomenon that would provide real-time, up-to-date status, from the office or the road. Stone and others are amazed by how asking the simple question “What are you doing?” has become such a hot commodity since Twitter was prototyped in 2006.

“What jumps out to us is that Twitter has become more a triumph of humanity than a triumph of technology,” says Stone. From finding available gas during fuel shortages, to feeling the impact of earthquakes within 10 seconds of first shock, to facilitating tsunami relief in sub-Sarahan Africa, people are instinctively attracted to Twitter and are using it in ways its co-founders never imagined.

“Tens of thousands of people followed the account of the touch-and-go unmanned Mars Phoenix landing, as NASA’s director of communications tweeted about key equipment procedures in real time. Twitter catalyzed an entirely new kind of public involvement in science. By the time the mission’s press release went out, it was old news,” says Stone. Millions of people, Stone notes, also use the service as a serious business tool for everything from communication and branding to gauging a product’s success in the market.

Socially responsible and environmentally sustainable

With just under 30 employees, the sense of social responsibility runs high at Twitter. Big pitchers of filtered lemon-cucumber water are in the office kitchen, so Twitter employees have clean drinking water without the plastic bottles. At the same time, Twitter stakeholders never forget that a billion people go without clean drinking water every day. The company’s environmental concerns extend to its choices when it comes to technology.

Among the many reasons the Twitter organization is attracted to the MacBook and MacBook Air is their low power consumption, which reflects the company’s green ethic. “We haven’t measured our energy savings yet, but the environmentally conscious aspect of Mac systems and the fact that they are made without the harmful chemical compounds found in older PCs is very important to us and affects our buying decisions,” says Stone.

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