Twitter co-founder Biz Stone has told HIMSS12 that people urgently need social tools to help them make sense of “infinite information."

In the keynote address to the healthcare IT conference and show in Las Vegas, Stone told a standing room only audience: “What we’ve built with the internet so far is great, but we are not built to understand a world of infinite information.”

Although he made little reference to healthcare directly, Stone suggested that the same challenges of making sense of vast amounts of data and working together in concert applied to the sector.

He said that in the hyper-information age, people need empathetic tools that enable to “transform information to understanding and taking action.”

He cited his loss of 30 pounds in weight using a fitbit monitor as a personal example of how information could enable someone to take action to improve their personal health.

Dressed in jeans and a black top, in contrast to his suited audience of IT executives, Stone related the story of Twitter’s creation just four years ago and the philosophy behind the company.

He said that in part the inspiration for Twitter had come from the status messages used in instant messaging tools, and the sense of connection with a friend that such a simple status message could create.

Another strand had come from one of the original team’s work on dispatch systems, including for ambulances, and the notion that such messages provided the living pulse of a city.

A repeated theme of his keynote was that empathy, fun and forming connections on a very human level was at the heart of Twitter.

He argued this was helping people to make personal sense of the tidal wave of information that swept over them daily.

He joked that when the company had begun, many people had asked ‘what is the point of Twitter?’ He quoted his co-founder’s response: “What’s the point of ice cream, do you want to ban that too?”

Stone said he had been amazed at how quickly Twitter had taken off and enabled people to form connections that could bring them to work in concert. “Twitter is not a triumph of technology, but a triumph of humanity.”

Stone, originally a graphic artist and web designer, drew on the analogy of a flock of birds in flight, in which birds through very simple communications “can appear to act as a single organism.”