Marshall Kirkpatrick surveyed the use of Twitter by the people who work at Twitter and found that they use it like regular people use Twitter. They post 2-3 times a day and follow a reasonable level of less than 500 people. However, being people who work at Twitter they have a lot of followers. The man bites dog part of the story, however, is that Twitter gets its power from the people who use and develop upon Twitter, so shouldn't they be paying inordinate attention to those people?
There is only one Robert Scoble. He's the prisoner who takes the experimental drugs to see part of the future for us, and we get the FDA approved drug years later. He follows, well, everybody (almost 100k people). Did the same thing when RSS came onto the scene by subscribing to 10k feeds. Yeah, sure this is in part a publicity stunt, and drives up his own follower count, but that's not his point. By emodying the power user he sees things we don't see. Not what he gets from his followers, but from coping with attention overload. Guess what Robert wants Twitter to develop next? Filters.
But guess what? In Twitter people are the filters. When you follow them you not only get what they say, but what they share, often from people you don't follow. Its not just a reply-optional medium, but subscribe-optional, and social serendipity lets it stay that way.
Despite the recent @replies kerfuckle, social serendipity works on Twitter because of asymmetric follow. On the other end of the spectrum, Facebook is trying to break out of how serendipity happens despite symmetric follow, often in ways where privacy has to be broken to reveal new people (photo tags, comments, etc.). Social software is stuff that gets spammed, especially on Twitter. Note how trending topics is gamed by spammers and watch what will happen as new microsyntax conventions get popular. With @, RT, # and more Twitter employees discover plenty.
80% of Twitter accounts have <10 followers. I follow less than 500 people and have a lot more followers. This lets me spend a reasonable amount of focus on some people I know and curate good things to share for many people I don't. I make a point to follow new people, but also drop others, so my filter is constantly shifting. I'd be a lot more concerned if the Twitter employee follow list was static than it being small and naturally focused.
Now I don't want to take away from Marshall's core point that Twitter employees need to listen to their community. But I don't think their base follow list is enough to say they aren't listening. At #140tc, Alex Payne noted how they use CoTweet for organizational tracking and internal assignment, for example. Similar to how Signals pulls Tweets in for organizational awareness. Listening, learning and responding as an organization takes a different approach than how a power user could and should. And you can bet Anamitra and other team members pay a lot more attention to things that trend than we do.
Stowe Boyd rightly notes the key issue is governance. While we shouldn't expect a representative democracy from the venture that is Twitter, a broad check and balance is in place. As Stowe quips, "But it is our dancing that makes the house rock, not the planks and pipes. It is us that makes Twitter alive, and not the code."
Google is an advertising company, not a search company, so too Twitter is a media company not a communication utility company. Form follows funding, and so too governance. Twitter the venture has lately taken a position similar to an old fashioned media company, relatively neutral and unbiased in enabling commercial relationships to form on its platform. A good approach for long term value. But as a new media company, these opporunities arise asymmetrically from what emerges from communication. I find this a useful analogy to help explain Twitter's business, and if the neutrality principle is true, we can help keep it in check.
I wouldn't want Twitter employees to drive up their following count in response to this. At best it could be a false guesture and at worst it would distract them from getting shit done. Similarly, I wouldn't want the structure of a Signals network to map to the org chart of a company. The politics of attention may want it to, but as a culture of use emerges it is more likely to represent flows than silos.