Twitter CEO Dick Costolo on how it reinvented the ‘Agora’: the Digital Town hall

Twitter CEO Dick Costolo at the University of Michigan, November 2012Interesting speech here by Twitter CEO Dick Costolo, speaking recently at the University of Michigan, where he makes his case about how Twitter unlike previous generations of technology (okay Google) hasn’t been the same disintermediating or disruptive force on traditional media, but rather one that has worked in the opposite way. Not a force pushing apart, but one that brings together.

While many publishers see the likes of Google News trying to take them out of the equation, by taking all the eyesballs while producing none of the content, Costolo in his speech crystalises why Twitter is different.

Twitter rather than being about disruption is about the kind of coalescence we saw hundreds, if not thousands, of years before in ancient town squares or more precisely, as Costolo puts it, the Greek Agora. It’s that which in a digital sense he says Twitter has helped reinvent. 

If you’re not up on your Geek Greek the Agora was the central spot in an ancient Greek city-states where people gathered to hear news and to talk and debate. Agora literally means  “gathering place” or “assembly”.

Isn’t that what Twitter has become at hits heart, particularly in how it relates to traditional media, a digital town hall where everything from X Factor winners to future presidents are debated?

Costolo said:  “Along comes Twitter, and Twitter re-invents the agora. We once again start to see multiple perspectives on a particular news story or event that’s happening. We once again start to have a shared experience across the globe about what’s happening and what we’re viewing now. We once again get an unfiltered perspective of what’s happening. But, at the same time, it complements all these traditional forms of broadcast media.”

He talks about how Twitter has done this in ways that could never have predicted when it first came along and how it is increasingly the case that Twitter is the shared experience, bringing the addition of the multiple perspective and the in side out view, and the dialogue and the conversation about the broadcasting that is happening on television right now.