In this conversation from the “21st Century Individuals vs. 20th Century Organization” session at Techonomy 2011 in Tucson, Ariz., Techonomy founder David Kirkpatrick talks to Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey about how social networks allow governments and businesses to track and respond to public reactions to policies, plans, and products. Dorsey emphasizes that networks like Twitter allow real-time tracking of public opinion, creating an immediate feedback loop between service providers, including governments, and their citizen-clients.
Kirkpatrick: From your sort of programmer’s, managecr’s, theoretician’s perch, how do you look at the impact of these systems that you’ve been deploying on large organizations, whether they be companies or governments, and how do you think we should be thinking about that and particularly, what do you think people are missing about what’s happened?
Dorsey: Well I think quite simply there are amazing feedback loops. So when I release a new product or when I release a new ad campaign or if I’m a government, I release a new policy or law, I can get instant feedback on what people are thinking and how they interact with it and how they react to it. I can use that information to tune and to better my policies or my product or my company or my image or whatever I’m dealing with, all in real time. When I was—I think I was talking to you about this before—when I was deciding to go to university, I was deciding between political science and computer science because I love cities. I love city government in particular and what I determined is, with political science and with public—going into the public office—I could help write laws, I could help write policies, and I may see the effect of them within eight years. It’s a very, very long term window. Whereas with programming I could model similar laws, similar policies, similar rules, and see the effect immediately. I think what we are doing right now with these technologies, is we’re shortening the gap of feedback so when we have a new law, when we have a new policy, when we have a government fall we can tell what the people en masse, in aggregate, think immediately and those governments, those organizations, those companies, even those individuals, can act on that feedback, engage in that feedback, and actually change things quicker than ever was possible.