That Time I Accidentally Invented Twitter


A curio from the archives. Waaaaaay back in 2003, I was working at Vodafone on their graduate training scheme. One of their fancy new ideas was a crowd-sourced employee suggestion box for new business proposals.

As an eager young grad I submitted dozens of ideas. Most of them were crap. But, as I looked back over them, this one struck me as being a lot less crap than others.

Yes, it's an appallingly written proposal. Full of brash arrogance. I hadn't really started blogging in earnest and didn't quite get what all the fuss was about. This was a year before Flickr was launched - and I was talking about sharing photos online using the nascent MMS service.

At the time, SMS was a cash-cows for mobile operators. But MMS was a laggard. It was expensive for operators to add it to their networks, and that cost was passed on to users. And those users needed an expensive phone - and for their friends to also have expensive phones.

Being able to post messages and photos to a group of people - via a "web log" - would have been an interesting way to drive usage. Or so I thought.

I don't remember if any discussions happened around it. And, in truth, I don't think Vodafone would have been able to make it work. They would have locked it down so that only Vodafone UK subscribers could use it, they'd have charged a fortune, and they'd probably have targetted it at salesmen wanting to update their teams.

Perhaps I should have tried to launch it myself? I didn't really know what a start-up was back then, and I had no entrepreneurial zeal. I wasn't a great coder - but neither were the team behind the Fail Whale.

But, just for a minute there, I saw the potential of micro-blogging to change the world.


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