Bringing Humanity Into Technology - @Biz at FUZEnation

Last week I spent an afternoon listening to Biz Stone speak on his time at Twitter, his new tech start-up, Jelly and how he views the connection between technology and culture. He was introduced as someone who is attempting to bring humanity into technology and after hearing him speak, I would agree with that statement. 

If Twitter was to be a triumph, it wasn’t going to be a triumph of technology - it would be a triumph of humanity... Success, I suddenly saw, came from how people used the tools they were given.
— Things A Little Bird Told Me - Biz Stone

One of the first topics he talked about was Twitter's ability to help people flock together for a moment and then return back to normal after the event. I use Twitter a lot for news and (Twitter is now under the "News" category in the App Store), Biz talked a lot about the early days and how it has been a huge part of major world events since Twitter started. In his book Biz says, 

The mechanics of flocking are very simple. Each bird watches its neighboring bird’s shoulder and simply follows that spot. Twitter was creating the same effect. Simple communication, in real time, had allowed the many to suddenly, for a few seconds, become one. Then, just as quickly, they become individuals again.
— Things A Little Bird Told Me - Biz Stone

On this afternoon Biz was also quick to note that the silly tweets or the everyday tweets people send out is what makes Twitter so successful during the important moments. 

If you don’t think about the silly things to tweet you won’t know, or even think about Twitter during the important moments.
— Biz Stone

The point here was that if people do not use Twitter in their regular routine they will not think to use it during a major event like a disaster, or where passing key information quickly is needed. Using Twitter to pass on key messages needs to almost become natural for it to thrive in the way that it hopes to change the world of news. He was also quick to note that no one should tweet when they drink. A key message that often goes unheeded. 

Jelly is a new way to do search. It's core assumption is that for every question you may have there is a person that has an answer. Right now, most people when they do a search online they look for a document to return to them that has the answer. Or as Biz started,

Using A.I. to find I.
— Biz Stone

With #AskJelly when you ask a question they connect people with other people to share knowledge and experience to have those questions answered. Now, with the help of a Twitter Bot when you use the hashtag #AskJelly on Twitter it automatically gets filtered through the Jelly system to help connect you to people easier and more quickly then before. 

I have been waiting for a very long time to hear Biz Stone live. I love hearing people who have a creative mind share their knowledge, but who also speak out of the passion they have for what they work on. Biz is a very optimistic person and spoke about his 1,000 year plan for humanity and his hallucinogenic optimism that runs his life. He is big on mentoring and volunteering and spoke very openly about the benefits of both. When he was asked about what his definition of success is he defined it as threefold. 

1) Make Money.
2) Enjoy Your Work.
3) Positive Impact in the World.
— Biz Stone

The interesting point he made was that the definition is not based on the achievement of one of these three. It is the integration of all three into the culture and overall goals of your business. You need an equality of all three to be successful. 

One thing I have really been wrestling with since hearing Biz is the idea and connectivity between creativity and constraint. For Biz, constraint helps breed creativity. In his book he explains this, 

In business, constarints emerge from the time you have to finish a project, the money you have to invest in it, the people you have to build it, or the space to you have to complet it. These limitations, counterintuitively, can actually enhance productivity and creativity.... Embrace your constraints, whether they are creative, physical economical, or self-imposed. They are productive. They are challenging. They wake you up. They make you more creative. They make you better.
— Things A Little Bird Told Me - Biz Stone

I always tell people that in order to get better at what you do you always need to be learning from those that inspire you. Biz's creativity and outlook on technology inspires me and that is what pushed me to read his book originally. I would recommend the book to anyone. If you are a leader continue to learn and never stop.