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A very good article from NYT. Just sharing! Smile

The Twitter Trap - Is social media making us stupid?
by Bill Keller 08:11 AM May 25, 2011

LAST week, my wife and I told our 13-year-old daughter she could join Facebook. Within a few hours, she had accumulated 171 friends, and I felt a little as if I had passed my child a pipe of crystal meth.

I don't mean to be a spoilsport, and I don't think I'm a Luddite. I edit a newspaper that has embraced new media with creative, prize-winning gusto. I get that the Web reaches and engages a vast, global audience, that it invites participation and facilitates - up to a point - newsgathering. But before we succumb to digital idolatry, we should consider that innovation often comes at a price. And, sometimes, I wonder if the price is a piece of ourselves.

Joshua Foer's engrossing best seller Moonwalking With Einstein recalls one colossal example of what we trade for progress. Until the 15th century, people were taught to remember vast quantities of information. Feats of memory that would today qualify you as a freak - the ability to recite entire books - were not unheard of.

Then along came the Mark Zuckerberg of his day, Johannes Gutenberg. As we became accustomed to relying on the printed page, the work of remembering gradually fell into disuse. The capacity to remember prodigiously still exists (as Foer proved by training himself to become a national memory champion), but for most of us it stays parked in the garage.

Sometimes, the bargain is worthwhile; I would certainly not give up the pleasures of my library for the ability to recite Middlemarch. But Foer's book reminds us that the cognitive advance of our species is not inexorable.

My father, who was trained in engineering at MIT in the slide-rule era, often lamented the way the pocket calculator, for all its convenience, diminished my generation's math skills. Many of us have discovered that navigating by GPS has undermined our mastery of city streets and perhaps even impaired our innate sense of direction. Typing pretty much killed penmanship. Twitter and YouTube are nibbling away at our attention spans. And what little memory we had not already surrendered to Gutenberg we have relinquished to Google. Why remember what you can look up in seconds?

Robert Bjork, who studies memory and learning at UCLA, has noticed that even very smart students, conversant in the Excel spreadsheet, don't pick up patterns in data that would be evident if they had not let the program do so much of the work.

"Unless there is some actual problem solving and decision making, very little learning happens," Bjork emailed me. "We are not recording devices."

Foer read that Apple had hired a leading expert in heads-up display - the transparent dashboards used by pilots. He wonders whether this means that Apple is developing an iPhone that would not require the use of fingers on keyboards. Ultimately, Foer imagines, the commands would come straight from your cerebral cortex. (Apple refused to comment.)

"This is the story of the next half-century," Foer told me, "as we become effectively cyborgs."

Basically, we are outsourcing our brains to the cloud. The upside is that this frees a lot of gray matter for important pursuits like FarmVille and Real Housewives. But my inner worrywart wonders whether the new technologies overtaking us may be eroding characteristics that are essentially human: Our ability to reflect, our pursuit of meaning, genuine empathy, a sense of community connected by something deeper than snark or political affinity.

The most obvious drawback of social media is that they are aggressive distractions. Unlike the virtual fireplace or that nesting pair of red-tailed hawks we have been live-streaming on, Twitter is not just an ambient presence. It demands attention and response. It is the enemy of contemplation. Every time my TweetDeck shoots a new tweet to my desktop, I experience a little dopamine spritz that takes me away from ... from ... wait, what was I saying?

My mistrust of social media is intensified by the ephemeral nature of these communications. They are the epitome of in-one-ear-and-out-the-other, which was my mother's trope for a failure to connect.

I'm not even sure these new instruments are genuinely "social". There is something decidedly faux about the camaraderie of Facebook, something illusory about the connectedness of Twitter. Eavesdrop on a conversation as it surges through the digital crowd, and more often than not it is reductive and redundant. Following an argument among the Twits is like listening to preschoolers quarreling: You did! Did not! Did too! Did not!

As a kind of masochistic experiment, the other day I tweeted "#TwitterMakesYouStupid. Discuss." It produced a few flashes of wit ("Give a little credit to our public schools!"); a couple of earnestly obvious points ("Depends who you follow"); some understandable speculation that my account had been hacked by a troll; a message from my wife ("I don't know if Twitter makes you stupid, but it's making you late for dinner. Come home!"); and an awful lot of nyah-nyah-nyah ("Um, wrong." "Nuh-uh!!"). Almost everyone who had anything profound to say in response to my little provocation chose to say it outside Twitter. In an actual discussion, the marshalling of information is cumulative, complication is acknowledged, sometimes persuasion occurs. In a Twitter discussion, opinions and our tolerance for others' opinions are stunted. Whether or not Twitter makes you stupid, it certainly makes some smart people sound stupid.

I realise I am inviting blowback from passionate Tweeters, from aging academics who stoke their charisma by overpraising every novelty and from colleagues at The Times who are refining a social-media strategy to expand the reach of our journalism. So let me be clear that Twitter is a brilliant device - a megaphone for promotion, a seine for information, a helpful organising tool for everything from dog-lover meet-ups to revolutions. It restores serendipity to the flow of information. Though I am not much of a Tweeter and pay little attention to my Facebook account, I love to see something I've written neatly bitly'd and shared around the Twittersphere, even when I know - now, for instance - that the verdict of the crowd will be hostile.

The shortcomings of social media would not bother me awfully if I did not suspect that Facebook friendship and Twitter chatter are displacing real rapport and real conversation, just as Gutenberg's device displaced remembering. The things we may be unlearning, tweet by tweet - complexity, acuity, patience, wisdom, intimacy - are things that matter.

My anxiety is less about the cerebrum than about the soul, and is best summed up not by a neuroscientist but by a novelist. In Meg Wolitzer's charming new tale, The Uncoupling, there is a wistful passage about the high-school cohort my daughter is about to join: "The generation that had information, but no context. Butter, but no bread. Craving, but no longing."

The writer, Bill Keller, is executive editor of The New York Times.
Time to cash out by VC...

Twitter moves closer towards IPO

SAN FRANCISCO – Microblogging website Twitter is in preliminary talks about a possible initial public offering, and will decide whether to file the IPO paperwork with regulators this year or next after its third-quarter financial results, the Bloomberg news agency reported, citing unidentified sources.

Twitter finance chief Mike Gupta, who joined the company last year, is leading the talks with banks about handling the IPO, a sign that the most anticipated stock-market debut since Facebook is getting closer, the report said.

Mr Gupta would accompany CEO Dick Costolo during an eventual cross-country pre-IPO road-show, explaining the company’s business to potential investors, the sources said.

The former Yahoo! finance executive will draw on an ability to communicate intricate ideas simply as he seeks to outline how the online-advertising business -- set to reach US$1 billion (S$1.27 billion) in sales next year -- can sustain long-term growth, Bloomberg cited Mr Peter Fenton, a partner at Benchmark Capital, as saying.

Can they tweet their AR in 140 characters only? Wink
Update on Twitter IPO. There is confidential IPO prospectus in US... learn one more new stuff today...

Twitter tweets it’ll go public

NEW YORK — Twitter is going public. The short messaging service aptly tweeted yesterday (Sept 12) it has filed confidential documents for an initial public offering of stock.

But the documents are sealed, as Twitter is taking advantage of federal legislation passed last year that allows companies with less than US$1 billion (S$1.3 billion) in revenue in its last fiscal year to avoid submitting public IPO documents.

San Francisco-based Twitter posted on its official Twitter account yesterday afternoon that it has “confidentially submitted an S-1 to the SEC for a planned IPO”.

The confidentiality will likely help Twitter avoid the public hoopla that surrounded the initial public offerings of other high-profile social networking companies, including Facebook, which went public in May last year.
One of the shareholders, Saudi prince view on Twitter valuation...

Saudi prince believes Twitter is worth more than US$15 billion

DUBAI - Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal says he will not sell any of his shares in microblogging site Twitter when it goes public, and expects the firm’s IPO to hit the market later this year or early next year.

The prince, a nephew of Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah and owner of international investment firm Kingdom Holding, invested US$300 million (S$379 million) in the social media giant in late 2011.

“Clearly the speed they’re moving with shows that they would like to IPO sooner than later. I believe it will happen either this year or early next year,” Prince Alwaleed told Reuters in a telephone interview yesterday (Sept 15).

“Twitter is a very strategic investment for us. We believe that it is just beginning to touch the surface. We have invested US$300 million in the company. We will be selling zero, nothing, at the IPO.” He did not say whether he might buy new shares in the offer.

Prince Alwaleed is a closely watched figure in international markets because of successful investments through Kingdom Holding in companies such as Citigroup and Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp.
Update on Twitter, before the IPO...

Twitter IPO: ‘Company seeking S$1.3bn loan ahead of Thanksgiving flotation’

LONDON — Twitter could go public within two months and has reportedly entered talks with Wall Street banks about a loan facility of up to US$1 billion (S$1.3 billion) ahead of its stock exchange debut.

The New York Post, which has reported Twitter’s talks with JP Morgan Chase and Morgan Stanley, says the float is expected before the United States Thanksgiving holiday on 28 November.

Twitter announced it was planning a float earlier this month but did not specify its timetable, filing S-1 documents for the Initial Public Offering with the Securities and Exchange Commission in the US.

It is not obliged to specify its launch date until 21 days before the IPO.

Investors value Twitter, founded in 2006 by Mr Jack Dorsey, Mr Biz Stone and Mr Evan Williams, at more than US$10 billion.
Is twitter IPO premature? Never turned a profit since founded, and hope to raise up to US$1 bil. May be only tech stock able to raise fund without earning, the selling point is the "hope" of future earning...

Twitter finally reveals revenue as IPO looms

SAN FRANCISCO — Twitter unsealed the documents for its planned initial public offering (IPO) of stock yesterday (Oct 3) and said that it hopes to raise up to US$1 billion (S$1.25 billion) in the largest Silicon Valley IPO since Facebook’s 2012 coming-out party.

The company is also revealing for the first time the amount of money it makes, hoping to woo investors with rip-roaring revenue growth despite never having made a profit in the past three years.

Founded in 2006, Twitter has never turned a profit and has an uninterrupted history of losses totalling US$419 million since its inception. But its revenue is growing.

In a short message from “@twitter”, the company outlined its mission as giving “everyone the power to create and share ideas and information instantly without barriers”.

“Our business and revenue will always follow that mission in ways that improve-and do not detract from-a free and global conversation,” Twitter added.
A comment from an important stake-holder, the customers aka the real "boss"... Big Grin

I still feel that Twitter IPO is premature...

Twitter needs more users, say advertisers

SAN FRANCISCO — For some advertisers, 218 million people is not a big enough audience. That’s their message to Twitter, which has detailed plans for an initial public offering.

Ad buyers say the short-message service will need significantly more users, and a bigger sales force, to attract more spending from their mass-market clients.

“Scale still matters,” said Mr AdamShlachter, Senior Vice-President of Media at DigitasLBi, a digital-ad firm. “How consumers embrace (Twitter) and tap into it, or tune into or out (of it), is going to be critical.”
Analyst already started to "promote" the "hope"...

Twitter gets ‘buy’ rating even before listing

LONDON — Twitter’s share price could almost double in its first year as a listed company, a brokerage firm said, issuing a “buy” rating on the stock even before the online messaging service goes public.

SunTrust Robinson Humphrey analyst Robert Peck, the first to rate the stock, suggested Twitter could float at US$28 to US$30 (S$34.90 to S$37.40) per share, and said it could reach US$50 within a year.

Twitter allows its users to post a maximum of 140 character messages called “tweets” to share their personal thoughts and links to content with the public and their friends, or to promote businesses.

“It is important for investors to look at Twitter beyond just a 140 character text,” Mr Peck wrote in a 76-page note.
It will list on NYSE, instead of Nasdaq. It shouldn't make a diff for Twitter, but matter to the exchange due to the IPO size.

Twitter to trade on NYSE

NEW YORK — The New York Stock Exchange has beaten its tech-heavy rival in the quest for the biggest stock debut of the year.

Twitter said yesterday (Oct 15) in a regulatory filling that it will list its shares on the NYSE when the company goes public later this year, choosing it over the traditionally tech-friendly Nasdaq Stock Exchange.

The filing also disclosed that the San Francisco company’s losses are mounting as it prepares to make its stock market debut.

The microblogging service did not say in the regulatory filing when it expects to start trading, but the debut is expected before Thanksgiving. It will use the ticker symbol “TWTR”.

The news is an upset for the Nasdaq, which has traditionally been the place for technology IPOs. The exchange was looking to redeem itself after last year’s Facebook’s IPO, which was marred by trading order failures and delays. As a result, the Securities and Exchange Commission in May fined the exchange US$10 million, the largest ever levied against an exchange.

Both exchanges had courted San Francisco-based Twitter heavily.
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