Twitter has been referenced as a waste of time, pithy non-sense and a time suck. However, it’s best description for my use is drinking from a fire hose. There are so many people typing so much information and even with just 140 characters it can be hard to manage. I’ve written before about my struggles with the Twitter stream, but one benefit the fire hose does provide is tapping the collective knowledge of Twitter. I agree with Micah that this is NOT necessarily crowdsourcing. It’s just searching for information or asking a few (or many) people a question and getting an almost instant result.
In the past few months, Twitter has helped me find new restaurants, backup software, news sources, software, home improvement contractors, immediate sports updates and new music. Why would you search Google for an answer to a question others might immediately give you? Google has to crawl all those web sites and although its fast, Twitter is faster and I usually know who I can trust. There is a much bigger discussion over the ascension of real-time search and Twitter’s fire hose provides that too at search.twitter.com. For detailed research the fire hose may only give you a start, but almost every time I need a simple answer I can poll or search Twitter.
Our society seems to only increase its need for convenience and immediacy, so how do you find quick information? Do you search online? Look in a phone book? Read the local newspaper? Call or text message a friend? I’m curious to know.