Just what is so great about Twitter?

Will there be any end to the number of articles on blogs and in the regular media about the wonders of Twitter? Just how many angles are there? Twitter is a microblogging platform: you can "tweet" 140-word (max) posts and the world can follow you while you do it (and you can follow the world). An example of Twitter promotion: Barry Graubart on Content Matters blog points out that Blockbuster's Chapter 11 filing was first reported on Twitter. But actually, no it wasn't. In a later clarification he explains that it was first reported on Bloomberg, but in the half-hour before Google, Yahoo news et al picked it up, various people Twittered about it.  Could anyone have made or saved a fortune in that half-hour window (if it was a window, and wasn't being filled somewhere else as well as via Twitter posts)? You tell me, I'll stay poor and read about it in the newspaper (ink on paper edition) tonight.

Another Twitter fan, Ian Hocking of This Writing Life blog, analyses an article about the psychology of Twitter – and Ian is well-qualified to do so, being a psychologist himself. His take on the appeal of Twitter: "It seems to me that an important factor in the attractiveness of Twitter lies in the pseudo-random occurrence of things that we consider important. For us, this is something just plain interesting, like Stephen Fry sharing his views on a new gadget, or the fact that Roger N. Morris has shaved off his beard. Such things are not earth-quiveringly important (except to Roger’s dinner companions) but they do serve as reinforcers in the parlance of the behavioural psychologist."

Other perspectives on Twitter recently include:

Why is the media so obsessed with Twitter? Jon Stewart investigates (video).

'Stage of Fools' by Maureen Dowd at the New York Times. "If only Shakespeare had known how to Twitter". The piece actually consists of a Twittered list of "offensive bipartisan pork". I wouldn't disagree with the adjectives, but what is Twitter's unique contribution here?

John Battelle, "king of search", on why Google's chief calls Twitter a "poor man's email".

From The Guardian: If Maya Angelou isn't Maya Angelou, who is it? Or, my suggested title: just who was stuck in that lift? How do we know that "celebrity Twitterers" are who they say they are, or are they impostors, or (worse) people's publicists? Do we care? A spoof blog (Richard Madeley, Lady Bracknell et al.) can be amusing if the writer really knows the subject, but a spoof or "outsourced to personal assistant" Twitter? If you want to check them out regardless, celebrity Twitterers, including scientific ones, can be accessed here. My favourite comment in that thread: “Facebook is about people you used to know; Twitter is about people you’d like to know better”. The New York Times's take on media celebrity Twitterdom is here (link via Dave Lull).

For some balance, here are two nice posts by a colleague, Noah Gray: How I learned to stop ignoring the Web 2.0 and love the Twitter; and Tales from a recent Twitter convert. (To which another colleague, Henry Gee, replies: "towards absurdam, reductio.)