October 24, 2012

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By Heather Johns

LEWISBURG, Pa. — They laughed, they cried, they tweeted. On Oct. 23, Twitter cofounder Biz Stone captivated the Bucknell Forum audience with stories from his days as a young entrepreneur, the pivotal moment he found joy in his work and what the future holds for social media.

Connecting each of Stone's stories was the idea that Twitter, a popular and growing technology, had its roots in —and balances its future on — human emotion. Stone compared the "Twitter effect" to biomimicry in that the social media tool emulates nature's patterns and strategies. Stone said he's always known that "if Twitter was to be triumphant, it would not be a triumph of technology. It would be a triumph of humanity."

Throughout the event, tweets flew fast and furious from attendees' smartphones, all tagged with #BucknellForum.

Stone's stories reached back to his days working at a design firm, where he said he learned that "creativity is a renewable resource." That lesson served him well as he and his colleagues founded Twitter, a process through which he experienced an unmistakable feeling: joy.

That feeling sustained Stone as he met and overcame challenges to develop and launch Twitter. "All along, people kept saying, 'Twitter is not useful,'" remembered Stone. "I said, 'Neither is ice cream. Should we ban ice cream — and all joy?" || Watch the Podsquad interview with Biz Stone.

Following Stone's remarks, Assistant Professor of Management Jordi Comas moderated a discussion that included the future of social media as a money-making enterprise. Stone said he takes the long view: "I put value before profit and don't believe in degrading the user experience."

In a Q&A, students asked questions about the future of the Internet and how Twitter followers factor into a person's measurement of success. Though Stone has 2 million Twitter followers, he dismissed the idea that the number has anything to do with a person's success. "Success is not a number, it's levels of engagement," he explained.

"Technology is a tool. In general, humans are testing the boundaries of how much is too much information," said Stone. "The last decade was about the democratization of information. The next phase of the Internet is underway. We must transmute information into understanding into action."

The Bucknell Forum
The Bucknell Forum series, "tech/no," embraces the perils and promises of technology. The series, which starts in fall 2012 and will run through four semesters, aims to stir discussion about the pros and cons of technology, its benefits and damages, its legitimate promises and false panaceas, and its capacity to satisfy human need and desire even as it can bring risk and danger.

Upcoming Bucknell Forum events include a performance of "Un/True and Un/Real: The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs" on Nov. 27; comedian and author Baratunde Thurston on Jan. 29; Rebecca Skloot, author of the bestseller The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, on Feb. 6, and Arianna Huffington, president and editor-in-chief of the Huffington Post Media Group, on Feb. 19.

Contact: Division of Communications