The New York Times and the Twitter as a Business Thing

The New York Times has an article about Twitter.  Before I dive into the substance of the article, let me note that the article is in the Your Money section of the paper.  Once again, folks are trying to divine business from cool.  This is a problem for two reasons.  One, it won’t work.  Two, it insults cool.  Cool is cool.

The best thing about the article is that it almost explained to me the difference between a friend and a follower.  I’m not a read the manual kind of guy, so I still don’t really know the fine points of that distinction.

Scoble gets some much needed coverage, since it’s been at least 15 seconds since we last read about the Michael Jordan of the blogosphere.  I mean that in a good way (Scoble is good at the blogging thing, video camera notwithstanding) and a bad way (Jordan so dominated the NBA during his career than lots of fans got bored with it).

I also learned that Twitter was founded by Evan Williams.  I suppose George Dickel founded Jaiku.  Just kidding.

In the article, Evan sums up what he thinks Twitter should be thustly: “Twitter is best understood as a highly flexible messaging system that swiftly routes messages, composed on a variety of devices, to the people who have elected to receive them in the medium the recipients prefer. It is a technology that encourages a new mode of communication.”

Doesn’t that sound better than a billboard for A-Listers to broadcast a link to their latest blog post?  Don’t we have RSS feeds for that?

It also sounds pretty businessly.  I agree about the new mode of communication part, but let’s not forget about the cool part.

As we know, some folks don’t like Twitter.  Some cat named Bruce Sterling channeled Emily Bronte and came up with this nugget:

Using Twitter for literate communication is about as likely as firing up a CB radio and hearing some guy recite “The Iliad.”

Note to Bruce: I suspect most people who fire up a CB are more into Homer Simpson than Homer the Greek.  I suspect most people who fire up Twitter feel the same way.  I also think that’s a funny statement coming from a science fiction writer.  Twitter doesn’t have to be all PBS to be fun and useful.

It also doesn’t have to be a business, since Evan is a “serial entrepreneur who made his fortune by selling Pyra Labs, the creator of Blogger, a popular blog publishing tool, to Google in 2003.”  I didn’t know that, but I’m glad.  Since he doesn’t need the money, maybe Twitter will survive the migration of the herd.

Unfortunately, the Web 2.0 stakeholders are still trying to figure out how to make all these hobbies into businesses.  The article ends  by wondering “whether the service can be made into a sustainable business.”

Who cares.  It doesn’t matter.

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