Fifteen-Year-Old Says Jeff Goldblum Is Dead - InformationWeek

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Infrastructure // PC & Servers
Commentary
7/14/2009
03:58 PM
Michael Hickins
Michael Hickins
Commentary
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Fifteen-Year-Old Says Jeff Goldblum Is Dead

The Internet is afire on account of the immortal words of fifteen-year-old Morgan Stanley intern Matthew Robson: "teenagers do not use twitter."

The Internet is afire on account of the immortal words of fifteen-year-old Morgan Stanley intern Matthew Robson: "teenagers do not use twitter."This is supposed to somehow to revolutionize our thinking about Twitter. OMG -- Twitter's massive growth has been nothing short of a mirage. Twitter is doomed to failure.

All this Sturm und Drang over the scribblings of a fifteen-year-old boy -- whose report was published by a bank that needed a massive bail-out from U.S. taxpayers, and is now apparently staffing analyst positions with child labor.

But I would like to reiterate the fact that Matthew Robson, through no fault of his own, is fifteen years old. Last time I checked, even Mark Zuckerberg wasn't Mark Zuckerberg when he was fifteen, and this kid, while certainly precocious, doesn't quite rise up to the level of being a baby Mozart.

And where are the facts underlying his claims? If a white 45-year-old male analyst at Morgan Stanley had written than "no white males in their forties do X," would we just take him at his word? In 1980, I didn't know anyone who said they were going to vote for Ronald Reagan, and I figured the guy didn't stand a chance of getting elected. Heck of a barometer I would have been.

Robson's manifesto is about as reliable as Twitter reports of Jeff Goldblum's death the same day as Michael Jackson died, and yet people paid it mind.

Why?

Maybe it's that, as Jared Newman noted:

The report struck a nerve because it was so personal - one teen's unfiltered musings. Maybe the lesson here is that investors and other Twitter-obsessed individuals should seek that out a little more often.
Here's a more likely reason: Twitter backlash. Earlier this year, it seemed like the blogosphere was ready to bring down Facebook as a failure in the making, and before that it was Second Life (the death of which has been greatly exaggerated) and YouTube before that. The cycle from obscurity to novelty to overwhelming success has accelerated to such a degree that while it took Microsoft a good ten to fifteen years to become Public Enemy No. 1, Twitter has been able to inspire schadenfreude in about as many months.

The funny thing is, Twitter's demographic sweet spot has been a known quantity for months, as David Pogue tells us.

Twitter people are generally not the same demographic as what you find on MySpace, Facebook, or YouTube... According to studies by PEW and Quantcast, Twitterfolk are older, better educated, higher-earning. About 80 percent of us are over 25, and two-thirds of us have college degrees.

If Twitter ever develops a business model, it will be by helping businesses reach their customers; businesses wanting to reach teens and tweens will have to find another venue. But in the meantime, there are plenty of people in the sweet spot of Twitter's demographic. And even better news for Twitter: all those teenagers who don't use Twitter will eventually grow up.

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