Twitter’s Biz in Japan

Techvibes’ own Warren Frey has relocated to Japan for an undetermined length of time and was lucky enough to attend the New Context Conference put on by Digital Garage. Biz Stone of Twitter, Robert Greenberg of Zynga, along with several execs from  Japanese social media powerhouses Mixi and Gree came together to discuss social media and how it plays out in the sometimes very different Japanese market.

Biz Stone, the cofounder of Twitter, took the stage at the New Context Conference in Tokyo on Thursday as the keynote speaker for the conference.

Stone explained how we used to “surf” the web, but today search engines have fixed that somewhat broken metaphor and let us find what we need to find. However the information on the web is growing at such a rate that even search engines are becoming overwhelmed.

Stone contrasted that with the statement that we are now “living in the age of Twitter.” At first the service was dismissed as being not of much use. But as it grew, it became a vital mode of communication during emergencies such as earthquakes or other natural disasters, or during uprisings such as the recent conflict in Iran.

Twitter has social aspects but isn’t a social network, and aloows you to find things but isn’t a search engine. All these other components have built up to the point where its allowed for the creation of Twitter, Stone said.

But “Twitter isn’t a triumph of technology, it’s a triumph of humanity,” Stone said. Twitter allows people to connect and become citizens of the world instead of nations. But the world isn’t defined by hardware and software. We define the world around us and “the new context is Us,” Stone said.  We are the nodes of connection in the network of the future, not computers.

Joi Ito joined Stone on stage for questions, where Stone said the reason for the 140 character limit was to comply with international texting standards. The constraint became a design cornerstone, allowing  the service to “fail gracefully” down to the level of the 140 character tweet.