SXSWi: Twitter Proved To Be More Than A Social Network

I should have been at his party, the startup’s CEO told me. I knew I’d missed that invite. I tweeted it, he replied. It was South by Southwest Interactive (SXSWi) in real time. Blink, miss a tweet and you may miss a party or a surprise concert or wind up in a boring session.

We were chatting at a small hotel courtyard gathering given by a host who had gently asked people not to mention the location if they tweeted their plans to attend. That was the only way to keep it anything close to private. Social networking isn’t just about connecting people to each other. It’s about broadcasting information. The broadcaster distributes the info; it’s the other person’s fault if they miss it because they are following the wrong people or the message flies by too fast. It’s a reward system for paying attention, whether it’s hearing about a cousin’s pregnancy on Facebook or a pop-up concert via MySpace.

During an SXSWi keynote interview, Twitter’s co-founder Evan Williams urged people to see Twitter as an information network rather than a social network. He’s right, up to a point. Twitter is a free broadcast service that can work for individuals and businesses alike, for audiences of 50 or 2 million. But it’s also a social network, a connecter of people