I noticed this article from Peter and his blog post: There is an interesting cross-over between microblogging and persistent group chat (e.g., Parlano) and concepts related to social presence. A "Twitter-like" capability is important from many angles within an enterprise setting. As the article below points out - the value of seemingly aimless commentary may not make sense to anyone else but those associated with each other - it might be as simple as "white noise" that fills in the background. Leisa Reichelt coined the term "ambient intimacy" and tools such as Twitter fit into that definition. Architecturally, as I mentioned in this post, Twitter is a multi-channel messaging routing platform which provides users with many different ways to send, track and receive messages (or posts). The wide range of available plug-ins allows me to use Twitter from Microsoft Outlook 2007, Skype, Google Talk, Facebook and the Twitter web site itself. Senders no longer dictate to receivers the tool and surrounding user experience. From a community-building perspective, this type of water cooler environment has always existed and this is just another example of how that metaphor can be manifested online. But Twitter can be used for more purposeful reasons as we've witnessed lately with the crisis in San Diego.
So it is far too early to dismiss these types of tools or relegate them to childish play. In order to build social applications within an enterprise context, we need to observe and learn from how these tools are being used out in the real world.
But it's too soon to dismiss the microblogging services' potential as businesses. Although all offer free registration, they could charge their customers and communications companies for premium functions. Pownce already charges its users for the ability to send large files. Perhaps the wireless carriers might pay the services to act as application providers for their customers; when mobile-telephone users bought a plan, they could select Jaiku as an option. Another possible source of income could be advertising that is pertinent to a particular user; advertisers and the media buyers at advertising agencies, for all their disenchantment with print publications and broadcast media, will still spend good money for the type of effective, targeted advertising offered by Google AdWords and AdSense. Finally, the services could be used for direct marketing. Already, a few companies (including Twitter itself) are using microblogs to directly market themselves; since users don't receive promotional posts unless they've chosen to receive them from the corporations they follow, the blasts are presumably welcomed.
My own experiments posting semiregularly on Twitter and Pownce produced mixed emotions. I quickly realized that decrying the banality of microblogs missed their very point. As Evan Williams puts it, "It's understandable that you should look at someone's twitter that you don't know and wonder why it should be interesting." But the only people who might be interested in my microblogs--apart from 15 obsessive Pontin followers on Twitter--were precisely those who would be entertained and comforted by their triviality: my family and close friends. For my part, I found that the ease with which I could communicate with those I love encouraged a blithe chattiness that particularly alarmed my aged parents. They hadn't heard so much from me in years.