Tomorrow, I am kicking off a project with the OD Network to study Twitter at and around their national conference: Now is Our Time. In preparation, developing an online community of practice, I started a wiki. The address is http://flockingtoseattle.pbworks.com/. I've also been reviewing a few articles.
Steven Johnson wrote a piece in Time Magazine in June titled "How Twitter Will Change the Way We Live" in which he states that there are three key capabilities of Twitter that make it unique and useful. He says they are: social networks, live searching, and link-sharing.
Social networks are the "following" and "friends" structures that form in social media.
Live searching is very much like searching on google.com but your search results are another thing entirely. Twitter search retrieves real-time information. It is what Johnson refers to as, "super-fresh web".
Link sharing is basically pointing capability. You can point to other content on the web that you want to share with your followers and it help drive attention. That is exciting to me because attention is creativity.
Some of my favorite features of Twitter are the self organizing behaviors that have shaped it. The use of #hashtags, and re-tweets are two great innovations created by users of the service.
Here is link (pointing) to a bit of interesting applied data collection about hashtags. http://hashtags.org/That is fun.
Here is link to pile of good information about retweets. http://mashable.com/2009/08/13/retweets-slideshow/