You've doubtless noticed the phenomenal buzz surrounding Twitter, a social networking service that allows very short messages (140 characters or less) to be broadcast to a closed group, or publicly to as many people as may choose to sign-up to receive your messages or "tweets."

What purpose does Twitter serve? It appears the overwhelming majority of users are tweeting their current activities to their groups, "I'm in the car going to the mall" and the like. Why anyone wants, much less needs, to know the activities of others in such excruciating real-time detail is a discussion best left to mental health professionals.

Ah, but who cares about its purpose if it's making gobs of money. Actually, you may not be surprised to learn that Twitter not only doesn't generate a profit, it currently doesn't generate any revenue. There are even third-party contests now to suggest a revenue model for Twitter!

Yet, the buzz around Twitter continues to grow. You can bet that we'll shortly be hearing the case for why Twitter makes sense in B2B environments. An article in yesterday's New York Times illustrates how we will begin to move down this slippery slope with the writer recounting his use of Twitter while on a panel at a conference. He sent out a tweet pertaining to the panel conversation and quickly received useful responses. Frankly, this strikes me as akin to conference speakers and panelists doing Google searches to answer audience questions, but let's not stand in the way of the Twitter juggernaut with such trifling objection s.

Twitter is fun. It is interesting. I am not sure how much of a breakthrough it is given that you can easily send an email or instant message to a pre-established group, and you can certainly post to a blog that others can subscribe to and receive push updates. We're not lacking for ways to communicate, and an arbitrary 140 character limit precludes most serious uses. So let's not tie ourselves up in knots seeking B2B applications for Twitter.

Some are comparing the superheated buzz around Twitter to the superheated buzz that once surrounded Second Life. I also recall the insistent refrain that Second Life had huge B2B applications as well. Remember Second Life? Enough said.

ISN'T IT IRONIC DEPARTMENT: It was reported today that Google has purchased a newsprint mill in Finland ... in order to convert it into a data center for its online search operations.

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