That was a question posed by VoIP pioneer Jeff Pulver recently. Where else? On Twitter. To his question, prominent blogger and highly regarded VC Fred Wilson answered, "it's an asynchronous and public form of chat." It is that - but it is much, much more.
Some of the most prominent names in technology (the two above, included) are regular Tweeters. Hugh MacLeod is, now, another. When Hugh posted the above cartoon in April, even he had no idea that it would soon apply to him. And in a post he blogged last week, he states:
The plan is; I shall reserve gapingvoid for cartoons and the longer, "substantive" posts. The day-to- day minutiae [including travel details when I'm on the road] and random links etc I shall move over to Twitter.
My answer to Jeff Pulver's question: Twitter is something else – and micro-blogging is just the beginning. As it was recently said, it is an opportunity
to mine the collective consciousness, to learn more about all of us from the small messages we send. As for grand conclusions about patterns of human interaction, those are as easily interpreted by listening to a group of seagulls or watching ants. The patterns defy recognition and the disparate voices do not add up to a digital chorus.
There’s much more to it than group conversation. It’s a new way of interaction, communication, learning, and relationship-building.
Bonus links for Twitterholics-in-waiting:
Twittervision - real-time geographic visualization of posts to Twitter (very cool)
Twitter Fan Wiki - exactly as it sounds, it's a place where you'll find links to third-party Twitter applications
TwitBin – send and receive Twitter updates in your browser (Firefox only)
Twitterific - MAC based desktop Twitter app, from which you can post and receive updates
(btw, when's a seamless PC version going to arrive?)
TwitterMail - send Twitter updates via email (love this!)