A little over a month ago, I was trying to explain the appeal of Twitter to someone who had never used it and didn't understand it - they thought that "with the short sentences there's not room for much substance." I responded with, "If you are Twitterfriends with someone, and you get their updates for a week or so, there is so much substance. You get little snippet insights into their lives: how they think, their habits, etc. You get a feel for the city they live in. What they eat. How their moods affect what they do elsewhere. It is almost like long-term ethnography, because people don't put a ton of thought into when they Twitter - they just do it."
This was realized by my friend Chet at last Friday's Sweet & Vicious thingie. He mentioned something about my penchant for Jameson. I, shocked, said "How did you know that?" "Twitter," he responded. Out of my now 779 Twitters over the last several months, three to five of them have mentioned the delicious Irish whiskey.
The latest issue of WIRED explains this in a much better way that I did (or ever could):
...the true value of Twitter is cumulative. The power is in the surprising effects that come from receiving thousands of pings from your posse.
'...when I get such granular updates every day for a month, I know a lot more about her... I begin to develop an almost telepathic awareness of the people most important to me.'
So why has Twitter been so misunderstood? Because it's experiential. Scrolling through random Twitter messages can't explain the appeal. You have to do it - and more important, do it with friends.
You're creating a shared understanding larger than yourself.
I know people are writing about Twitter to death. I won't again, I promise! Except for my article that's coming out in a couple of days that talks about real time documentation. Okay, okay. I can't stop. Sorry guys.