An alternate history where Twitter is genuinely disruptive

Jim Munroe, director of Ghosts with Shit Jobs, is back with a strange, Utopian short film. It's a mashup of an actual interview with Twitter founder Jack Dorsey. In an alternate history, Dorsey realizes that Twitter has become corrupt and gives it back to the people by making it open source.


Writes Munroe:

I have resisted joining Twitter because I think privately owned communities are a terrible idea. Even if you can get over the few profiting from the labour of the many, they are naturally vulnerable to abuse — the bigger they get, the more pressure is there to change the original user agreements for easier commodification. I have no problem with social media per se, but to me the fact that you need to join Twitter to be part of that conversation would be like if the only place to get email address was Hotmail. But through my tweeting for various projects I also see how useful and interesting it is, so I've wanted to join as @nomediakings for a while. I told myself that if I wrote a utopic story of what I would like to see happen with Twitter, I'd give myself permission to join. (I already opt out entirely of a bunch of things for my political beliefs, so I sometimes use this "ethical offset" approach to avoid becoming a total monk.)

So I started to read about the people behind Twitter, and one of my sources was a 60 Minutes interview with Jack Dorsey from earlier this year. After watching it I decided against writing a prose story — I could use his revolutionary rhetoric buzzwords, his real-life open source roots and rebellious youth, and the interviewer's fawning reactions to construct a semi-plausible alternate reality. You can see the original segment here, along with the web outtakes I also used.

To the interviewer, Dorsey must be a genius because he's so successful, and the original segment attempts to build the case of his exceptionalism to explain the rise of Twitter to their viewers. Placing Dorsey and Twitter in context would have been messier and would have included txtmob and the other more radical models that inspired Twitter. I find him likeably similar to a lot of awkward geeks I know, and feel sorry for him when the interviewer criticizes his introvert tendencies — especially when he seems to agree with her. I just wish he did something more interesting with his power, and so I wrote a story where he acted like the hero that he's presented as in the interview.

This film is part of a larger project that Munroe is doing called "Postopias," where so-called disruptive technologies actually become genuinely disruptive of the mainstream social order — more like the Occupy version of disruptive than the TechCrunch version.

You can see more of Munroe's work on his website.



This morning on KQED their was a NY Times author talking about his view on how Twitter going public will impact them. What he said, as a matter of fact, was the opinion that when they go public they will become beholden to their shareholders instead of the users. That the founders' values will be replaced by the desire of the shareholders to get quarterly profits.
This construct is just that, a construct. The company will probably do what most public companies do and bend to the desire of the institutional investors to only focus on shrt term profits. But that might mean less money spent on defending political activists ("Where is the money in that?) and more money in unveiling people who tweet negative things about corporate advertisers.