‘I Love Being Behind The Scenes’

I swore that I would not subject myself to the new Rolling Stone interview with Jack Dorsey (the writer of the piece took my tweet as an insult to him, told me to “fuck off”, and then blocked me), but I did anyway.

Now you don’t have to, because I’m going to give you the lowlights in a helpful bulleted list.

  • Jack says, exposing the limited way in which he thinks of the issue, that “there are [no] self-professed Nazis” on Twitter. He also says that “people don’t report” the nazis, preferring to just tweet at him to get rid of them.

  • Jack says that they shouldn’t try to “determine true or false” but instead “determine is it misleading”, as if “misleading” isn’t a kind of falsehood.

  • Jack says, “We never really designed the product to be, like, ‘How do we make this more addictive?’” Any service for which the user is what’s being sold inherently is designed to be at least addictive enough to deliver sufficient eyeballs to advertisers, and Jack, of course, knows this.

  • Jack says, “We do have a curation team that looks to find balance.” Balance being the same unreal pablum we’re constantly having to fight in journalism. Balance is not a virtue unto itself when it comes to information. This is why his initiatives to inject opposing viewpoints into people’s feeds is nonsense.

  • Jack says that Square “has to” run more smoothly than Twitter because “you’re dealing with people’s money” and that’s “extremely emotional”. (Having to deal with nazis, though, apparently is not.)

  • Jack, net worth $4.9B, says he’s “a punk”.

  • Jack, asked about not giving enough credit to other early Twitter inventors, says, “Two years into it I thought stuff like that mattered. I don’t feel it matters as much anymore. I think the real interestingness of Twitter is not us.” Now that he’s the center of attention, this is a convenient way to continue not giving credit.

  • Jack says, “The character I loved most in The Wizard of Oz was the wizard. ’Cause he was behind the curtain.” The wizard was behind the curtain because he was a confidence man and a fraud.

I agree, we have been bad at communication, we haven’t been as forthright as we need to, we certainly haven’t been as transparent. We do care deeply. But we need to do it in scalable ways. This work doesn’t happen overnight.

This admission comes early on in the interview, and it’s ironic in and of itself for what effectively is a communications company. His answers throughout the conversation, however, repeatedly are tremendouslycommunicative in ways he seems to be completely oblivious of—and in ways I hope other reporters pick up on since this one did not.

(I also have no idea what Jack means that their ability to communicate well needs to be “scalable”. You either communicate well or you don’t; scale is irrelevant?)

Were I to pick the moments in the interview which I think most reveal Jack’s inner workings, there would be three.

  • Does he really believe no one is reporting nazis and that the issue before him only is nazis who admit being nazis and not, you know, the plague of people being unprofessed nazis?

  • Does he realize what’s communicated when he calls money “emotional” but never applies that kind of terminology to Twitter’s impact on people’s daily, lived-in lives?

  • Does he really only comprehend the Wizard as the man “behind the curtain” and not, in the words of Wikipedia, “an ordinary conman … who has been using a lot of elaborate magic tricks and props to make himself seem ‘great and powerful’”?