i'll give you a short introduction, because probably that post might get a little longer.
but before there's a warning: if my conclusions or arguments are wrong or if you think, all i'm writing about is either thrash or already known for decades, then simply tell me :-)
this post is going to be all about twitter, why i think its useless but also rocks.
are you considering twitter as "real hot stuff"? well actually i do and i don't. afaik they don't even have a real business plan. i think the final product, so the application itself that allows us to tweet 140 char blogs and allows us to follow celebs and find out how long they've been on the toilet today and other crap that is considered to be essential knowledge that the whole world should know about, is a nice wrap around for the actual asset that twitter has: their real time search engine. the technology thats under the hood is most interesting. and as always the more users aka twitteres there are the mightier twitter will become.
i always thought most of those 140 char blogs are just idiotic. everyday you have a whole bunch of tweets, no is absolutely interested like, "just got up and made a coffee" or "waiting for my plane/train/taxi/friend/whatever". tweets are also useless when cnn or bbc are posting the news of the day, because sometimes you don't even get the essence of it, "obama meets merkel to discuss bla bla bla". so this might be interesting 'cause you know they've met and discussed some stuff but is this really everything that happened??
but now back to the live search engine which really rocks. what twitter can do is statistically evaluating all those posts and then what? well if they really can evaluate all posts, then they may foresee new hypes. it's about the same as google did with its flu recognition, only much, much hotter.
you want an example? you have a few twitterers that are always posting stuff like "sitting at the airport", "waiting for my plane", "just landed in XXX and its raining heavily". is this useful information? not for mankind actually. for twitter yes. why? ads, ads, ads and ads. at least some refinancing for them. that's nice but what about hypes? that's the clue, most standard twitterers post what is on their mind. "only 2 days until the neil young concert", "just visited vienna, and it rocked!!!". so with posts like that you may find out which city is in and which is out. you find out which new movie rocks and which sucks. you know what are people looking forward to. thats potentially more personal information than those people have on facebook (ahhh that's way they just bought friendfeed...).
maybe this is just obvious (which i think it is, thats why i posted it and thats also why i am actually not a high paid analyst at fortune 500 company...). and analytic tools are going to have a really big future, so the war is going to be about who's got the hottest analytics tool. actually that's no news as hal varian just said so recently in the ny times http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/06/technology/06stats.html?_r=2&ref=technology.
the web is full of personal data, and evaluating them is not just for advertising purposes. will there be the possibility that maybe some insurance companies evaluate tweets to find out who's a strong smoker? possible. is there the possibilty that maybe banks are trying to evaluate if there is much risk of giving any client a credit after their client posted "just lost 1000$ at the casino again". i am a software developer which implies that i am a nerd in one or the other way which also implies that i am paranoid...yes i believe all that is possible.
so concluding, twitter is sitting on a big treasure (all our thoughts) and they probably are smart enough to know that. and their treasure is probably bigger and worthier than googles and maybe also facebooks treasure. i think they know about that as well.
the good for twitter is they are absolutely hyping at the moment and can build and improve their real time search engine through that. even if, maybe tomorrow, no one is interested in twitter any more, they still have their analytics stuff which is their hottest asset.