By Carl Foster
It seems Britain’s ruling elite are not too comfortable with social media. Back in February I wrote about Baroness Greenfield’s assessment of the risk social networking poses to children. On Sunday, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Westminster wrote in The Sunday Telegraph that social networking was leading to dangerous “transient relationships”, is “dehumanising” community life and, as a consequence, we are “losing social skills”.
It was in this context that Kirsty Wark of the BBC’s excellent Newsnight programme conducted the first British TV interview with Twitter co-founder, Evan Williams. The interview told us some things we already knew (that the State Department had asked Twitter to push back some maintenance work during the Iranian protests) and some things we didn’t (that London is the top Twitter city in the world). You can tell from watching the interview here that Williams hasn’t conducted a huge number of TV interviews as he didn’t seem totally at ease.
But the main thing about the interview was his surprise at some of the questioning, particularly with regards to the dehumanising comments of the Archbishop, comments that Williams was not aware of. This section of the transcript is taken from the Guardian Technology Blog:
KW: But are you aware that the archbishop Vincent Nichols is very concerned that Twitter dehumanises a very important part of our social life?
EW: I wasn’t aware of that, I think it’s kind of silly, I would say that anyone who says that isn’t really familiar with the service, because it’s about humans connecting with each other, and often in ways that they couldn’t otherwise. It’s the opposite of dehumanising as far as I’m concerned.
The interview is worth watching but I got the impression that the interviewer and interviewee did not really have the same thing in mind going into it.