IIT-Delhi’s Dogra Hall was packed with students, faculty, and journalists on Monday morning. Jack Dorsey, Co-founder and CEO, Twitter, was in town. No surprises there as India is an important market for the online news and social networking site. Jack met Congress chief Rahul Gandhi and is likely to meet the IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad. However, like most global CEOs, he also made a pit stop at IIT for a town hall.
A college dropout himself, when asked if he would choose to finish his education at IIT-Delhi, Jack said: “This school is most definitely on my list.” Addressing students’ questions, he spent 45 minutes in the hall, answering questions on technology, social media addiction, its power, and much more. Here are some of the key takeaways from his conversation:
- The power of sharing ideas Twitter, Jack explained, was about sending an idea and a thought to a large number of people in a short and quick way. SMS text messages used to be limited to 160 characters; it was also expensive to send long messages. The whole idea of limited characters on Twitter was to ease the technology of sharing across messages, he said.
- With great power comes great responsibility Uncle Ben’s one-liner in Spider-Man never stops making sense. The power of sharing ideas is to ensure that people discuss and brainstorm. “Even if 10 people leave Twitter learning something they didn’t know before, it will be a success,” Jack said.
- The problem of misinformation The power of sharing also brings in numerous concerns of fake news. “Sometimes a joke by an influencer can also be contrived as information. It’s a difficult problem. Fake News or misinformation as a category is way too big. Our job is to make sure lies or fake news don’t get many impressions and reach. It’s a multivariable problem. We have to find multiple fixes to tackle this problem,” Jack said.
- Fixating on followers But what about reaching that sweet follower count? The power of being able to reach a mass audience? That isn’t the point, according to Jack. “Don’t focus on the number of followers. It doesn’t matter. Focus on the number of conversations you are contributing to. If your tweet is powerful, if people respond to your tweet, you’re doing good,” he said. He added that an idea or a thought doesn’t just become powerful by reaching many people; it happens organically with time.
- The importance of failure When as an entrepreneur, founder or individual do you make a decision or a choice, a student asked. Jack said the worst decision is to wait to make a decision. “At my worst, I haven’t been able to make a decision because I feared failure. It’s never too late to make mistakes, accept, and get up.”
- The questions around AI Will artificial intelligence help? Will it swallow jobs? “Artificial Intelligence is here to stay and while it helps us make decisions and choices, it again comes to us makers to use technology responsibly,” Jack said.
During his conversation with students, Jack asked if they should add “edit” to tweets. However, he said he was sceptical of the idea. “If a person likes your tweet, it’s because s/he likes the idea you are sharing. If you edit that idea, the ‘like’ given might not be for that particular one,” he said.
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