London is the capital of Twitter, says founder @ev

Twitter was featured on the BBC’s Newsnight programme last night. There weren’t any great revelations about the service, however the confirmation from the CEO that London remains the top Twitter-using city in the world is pretty interesting. This was indicated last year, but it is surprising that, a year on, London has retained this top slot, which just goes to show how popular it is in the UK overall.

Aside from that, the report it did provide a sort of “101” introduction to the service – although it was quite simplistic. That’s pretty much British TV reporting about tech in a nutshell.

[More after the jump]

Prior to a pre-recorded interview with Ev Williams, CEO and co-founder of Twitter, they ran a report in which the editor of Wired UK said he didn’t know what the business model of Twitter was. He obviously hasn’t been reading TechCrunch, because the options are pretty clear: Verified accounts, Search/Content Ads, Sponsored Tweets, “Adsense Widgets” and payments. David, where have you been?

We recorded the whole segment, above, but the main interview has been helpfully uploaded by the Beeb:

The interview with @Ev was a mix of Kirsty Wark’s questions and some rather awkwardly put point submitted by viewers.

What was special about Twitter, she asked?

Well we stood on the shoulders f giants, said Ev, neglecting to mention he came up with Blogging (Blogger) before ‘microblogging”.

Why is Twitter so popular in the UK?

We definitely noticed that the UK exploded in Twitter use, he said, adding that London is the top twittter city as of today and the UK is second only to the US in terms of numbers of users.

Does Twitter create a false sense of community? (Yes, that old chesnut). It’s not false, it allows people to communicate and is no less false than using the phone, he said.

But is this not an amorphous mass of anonymous people taking to celebrities? Er, no, said Ev – you have famous people but it turns out friends talk to each-other and people get news. Next!

Kirsty then turned to the hot topic of the day. But how do we verify who the celebs are?! Like Demi Moore?!

Well, said Ev, nonchalantly, her real account is MrsKutcher and I verified her, er, manually. “I talked to her.”

“Demi and Ash”, he continued, found that Twitter was useful to talk to fans without the media getting involved. (At this point it’s a shame the interview hadn’t been a) live, b) done by Jeremy Paxman, who would have spat at thought that the media would suddenly no longer be involved).

Is Twitter going to replace journalism?

It’s not journalism in the classic sense but it does enable people to report news events from the ground, said Ev. But you still need journalists to verify the information. (Phew).

Did you delay maintenance during the Iran election protests?

We did delay technical work, he said. It happened to be a key time in Iran, so we ended up putting it off. Lots of people asked them to do it, including the State Department but “But that’s not why we did it.” They thought it was the best thing to do to keep the information flow going.

Lastly, the coup de grace.

“Are you worried about the Archibishop Nicholls?” said Wark.

Ev wasn’t aware of the criticism by the Archbishop that tools like Twitter were de-humanising. “It’s kinda silly” he said. “It’s about humans connecting with each other. It’s the opposite of de-humanising.” Kerpow!

Is Twitter a fad?

“It’s only a fad if someone comes along and does it better,” said Ev. And with that he was gone.