Twitter Is Our Studio 54!
Like the Disco era, the Hippie Era, the Flapper Era, every decade is affected by the social consciousness of its time. Each is normally earmarked by a frenzy of interactive activity that becomes a world-wide sensation capable of capturing the imagination of millions. From the 'gate-crashing' of the 70's to the 'crowdsourcing' of 2009, have we come such a long way?.
Did the emergence of interactive online communities with its subsequent email marketing, wikis, bookmarking sites, blogs and social networks cause enough viral contagion to label the first decade of the new millennium as a movement? And if so, would you consider Twitter as the beehive hub for that activity, or the Studio 54 of our time?
Twitter's founders are considered entrepreneurs-extraordinaire, with their ground-breaking development of Twitter. Jack Dorsey, Evan Williams and Biz Stone are true visionaries who seized an idea and catapulted it into the stratosphere (or Twittersphere as it is more commonly known). Studio 54 was owned and operated by a few visionaries of its day as well; namely, Steven Rubell, Ian Schrager, Tim Savage and Jack Dushey.
Studio 54 attracted cultural icons including Andy Warhol, Halston, and Calvin Klein, in addition to politicians and celebrities the likes of JFK, Frank Sinatra, Elizabeth Taylor, Liza Minelli and Mick Jagger. Today dancing under the Twitter 'glitterball' you'll find notables, such as Barack Obama, Hilary Clinton, Diablo Cody, Ashton Kutcher, Oprah and others.
"Studio", as it came to be known was notorious for the hedonism that occurred within its hallowed halls; the balconies were known for sexual encounters, and drug use was rampant. Its dance floor was adorned with a depiction of a Man in the Moon and an animated cocaine spoon. Today's return to civility underscores Twitter's much more subdued dance-hall scene, as the Twitterati is more concerned about global issues, like the Iranian elections, censorship, breaking-news and yes, at times we do our share of gossiping and rumor-mill sharing.
In December,1978, Rubell was quoted in the New York newspapers as saying the Studio had made $7 million in its first year and that "only the Mafia made more money." Shortly thereafter the nightclub was raided and Rubell and Schrager were arrested for skimming $2.5 million.
Hopefully that same fate will not befall Twitter's founders, particularly since they have not even developed a business model for monetization yet. However, the similarities of the frenzied activity of the Disco era, epitomized by Studio 54 and the Tower of Babel zeitgeist of the Twitterverse's ecosystem seem to highlight our consistent desire for social interaction. Whether dancing to a disco beat or composing our next Twitter tweet, we have this inherent need to rub against our fellow man... either physically (like at Studio 54) or virtually (like at Twitter). The "wisdom of crowds" is still at work in today's milieu. Except, we've cleaned up our act some in the last 30 years! And while recent reports have labeled Twitter as "40% pointless," so was the Disco era. But when all was said and done, most of us would have to say... it was a lot of fun!
And hopefully when the Twitter era comes to a close, and our dance card indicates the "Last Dance," we will look back on this period of time fondly, and not so much as some have categorized the Disco Era.!