I spent Friday at a TechCrunch conference examining the real time web, which today is really Twitter and services based on Twitter. There are clearly real opportunities around the real time stream of information, and perhaps the most interesting part of the conference was Ron Conway's list of 10 ways Twitter could monetize, which totaled up to a $5bn market opportunity.
I wonder about the dangers of brief rapidfire "interactions". We have already become a soundbite culture that does not like to analyze or think too hard. Getting information 140 characters at a time exacerbates the trend. The Michael Jackson coverage is a great example of the power of the stream, and the danger. His death was all over Twitter long before traditional media outlets were reporting it. But at the time it was spreading, it now appears that it was impossible to confirm his death, so it was really just rumour.
Real time can be great, but usually what you get is data, not information, and in the deluge of noise, you may not pick up what is important. Sometimes it is good to slow down a little and think.
Interestingly, a report out this morning from a 15 yr old working for Morgan Stanley as an intern says that the next generation does not really use Twitter. I used to find it sort of useless as well, but now I see value in it as a micro-blogging platform.