Recode wonder woman Kara Swisher interviewed Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey on Twitter last night. It was, unsurprisingly, a terrible medium to conduct an interview. Recode republished the interview in order, which misses some of the nuance, but is the best place to catch up.
Jack has been on a strange media tour during past few weeks, including stops on both Joe Rogan’s and Sam Harris’ podcasts. All of these interviews have the same empty, passionless quality. The interviewers wanted concrete examples about what Twitter is doing, Jack only musters vague responses like “we’re better at prioritizing impact now”. The responses have all felt… slippery. And if you are going to be slippery (even if for good reason) why do a media tour?
Here are my top four takeaways from #Karajack.
- Jack doesn’t seem passionate about product. It wouldn’t be unreasonable to think he is burned out, given all that has happened with social the past few years. But he has no spark, no fire for what Twitter can evolve into. Make no mistake, people want Twitter to evolve. There is something so fundamentally flawed with the platform.
- The amazing book about Pixar, Creativity Inc, has some helpful advice about giving feedback on a script or scene. In essence, good notes say what is wrong, missing, or unclear. They do not make demands or propose a fix. Kara struggled to provide good notes, but clearly something is wrong, missing and unclear.
Well that is like telling me I am sick and am responsible for fixing it. YOU made the product, YOU run the platform. Saying it is a huge fail is a cop out to many. It is to me #karajack— Kara Swisher (@karaswisher) February 12, 2019
- Kara kept pushing Jack for specifics about what has changed and what else needs to be changed. When Jack didn’t give specifics, Kara would say something like “Why don’t you know, it’s your product!”.
- Twitter started out as a simple SMS replacement. It evolved into a megaphone of unprecedented proportions. Twitter as a platform has evolved far beyond any one person, Jack included. In fact, I suspect a lot of Jack’s slippery responses are due to the fact that machine learning and neural networks are doing a lot behind the scenes, and that is out of human control. Perhaps the AI has taken over without us noticing.
When you say physical safety, I am confused. What do you mean specifically? You are not a police force. In fact, social media companies have built cities without police, fire departments, garbage pickup or street signs. IMHO What do you think of that metaphor? #KaraJack— Kara Swisher (@karaswisher) February 12, 2019
- Kara wondered out loud if Twitter should be a public utility. There is a serious conversation to be had around this idea. Perhaps it is time for the National Public Internet. Further, Kara almost asked a great question about needing the social media version of fire, police and garbage collection. It would have been helpful to hear Jack’s thoughts on that specifically, but Kara and Jack were never speaking the same language, which brings me to –
I am still confused. What the heck is “off-platform ramifications”? You are not going to have a police force, right? Are you 911? #karajack— Kara Swisher (@karaswisher) February 12, 2019
- It was incredible how unaligned Jack and Kara were. Never did they find common ground. Never were they speaking the same language. The distance between them was never bridged. Twitter could not facilitate meaningful dialogue between two willing people motivated to be good actors. Facilitating human connection and conversation in the medium of real time public text doesn’t seem to work. It lacks nuance. It increases the distance between people with different views.
Ultimately, the #KaraJack interview perfectly illustrated how harmful social media can be in facilitating meaningful dialogue. Fixing that problem is a monumental challenge. History says someone else will fix this problem.