Biz Stone talks creativity

Sara Blair Matthews
News Editor

You’ve said in the past that Twitter was founded on simplicity. Why do you think that is especially important now that our society is so focused on multitasking?

“I don’t really believe in multitasking. I think you can do one thing well at a time. With regard to Twitter, maybe I’m obsessed with simplicity because I’m actually not that smart. I can’t walk and chew gum at the same time. But I also believe, from a higher altitude look at this stuff, that constraint really breeds creativity. The simpler or more constrained something is, or the less resources you have, the more imagination it takes to respond, and I’ve always thought that. When I was a little kid, I would go to the restaurant and we’d flip over the menus to draw. I would ask my mom, ‘What should I draw?’ I just didn’t know what to do on the blank piece of paper. She would say, ‘Draw whatever you want,’ and I would say, ‘I can’t think of anything!’ If she would say, ‘Just draw a truck,’ at least I had an idea of a place to start … so simplicity breeds more creativity, and I really don’t believe in multitasking.”

What are your long term goals for Twitter?

“I don’t work there any more, so my long term goals are that they just do incredibly well without me. But I guess a better way of saying that is I hope that if Twitter is to be a triumph, it’s not to be necessarily considered a triumph of technology, but rather a triumph of humanity. I hope it becomes a symbol of what people can do when they coordinate and collaborate more than celebrated for its algorithms or its data centers.”

If you had to do it all over again would you do it the same way?

“I would probably do it the same way because I think that there was so much joy and fun in the early days and the way we approached it. If I wasn’t having fun, then I wouldn’t have stuck with it. Even though there were so many problems, we weren’t technically ready for the success we had and an easy answer would be I would do it by investing first in infrastructure, I still wouldn’t change it. What made it work was the joy we were having when we did it.”

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