We happened to be on Twitter this morning when Andreessen Horowitz founding partner and general tech-god Marc Andreessen launched into one of his famous “tweet-storms.”
These sequential lectures, each entry of which contains a helpful number to avoid confusing new listeners, might be more accurately described as Tweet Essays. Mr. Andreessen has advanced this digital art form to a new level. His Tweet essays are usually as concise, smart, informative, and provocative as he is in person and conventional media.
This morning’s essay was on the perennial tech trends of “bundling” and “unbundling,” in which companies attack each other by offering part of one another’s products more cheaply and conveniently (a.k.a., “disruption”). This topic has been much in the tech news since the New Yorker published a takedown of Harvard professor Clay Christensen’s sophisticated disruption theory more than 15 years after he first advanced it in “The Innovator’s Dilemma.” Since the late 1990s, the word “disruption” has been commandeered by the tech industry and come to be used so frequently and carelessly that it is now basically synonymous with “what startups do.” That the word “disruption” has been so debased is a source of annoyance to many, including Christensen. But why the New Yorker would so aggressively attack the entire theory 15 years after the fact is a mystery, as many of its main patterns seem to occur repeatedly, especially in technology.
Anyway, Andreessen, who is an investor in this company, Business Insider, has published several Tweet-essays on this topic, with this morning’s being only the most recent. And, for Andreessen, who can generally be found on the West Coast of America, this was actually a late-night Tweet essay, not an early morning one, as many of his Tweet essays are. (If Andreessen ever sleeps, it is not apparent when.)
The essay began with the tweet below and concluded 17 tweets later. And then, as he always does, Andreessen took and responded to questions. At this writing, that process is still ongoing.
This morning, on Twitter (natch), we asked Mr. Andreessen a question of our own, which was prompted by another listener’s question as to why, if he was going to write an 18-part Tweet essay, he didn’t just write a blog post.
We hypothesized that Mr. Andreessen might use Twitter so he could interact with listeners and take questions on each specific point.
Mr. Andreessen confirmed that.
And then he cited another reason:
“Yep! And + forces concision without sounding inappropriately terse.”
That logic really does get at one of the virtues of Twitter: The ability to interact, selectively, with smart strangers and colleagues (and to ignore or even block dumb or rude ones) on specific points, while also preserving time and ego for both parties by limiting responses to 140 characters. At the same time, it allows all responses to be published publicly for anyone else who might be interested without boring the crap out of anyone who isn’t. And it preserves everything forever, in a format that allows everyone to read it (or not) on their own time whenever they are interested wherever they happen to be.
That’s pretty cool!
Disclosure: Marc Andreessen is an investor in Business Insider.