Everyone is asking me about Twitter lately: “What is it?” Microblogging. “Does it serve any purpose?” Lets you follow and communicate — 140 characters at a time — with friends, colleagues or (from the Twitter home page once you’re logged in) everyone who tweets. But invariably it comes down to the last question, “Why would I want to?”

The first two questions are easy but I admit to being pretty dodgy about answering the last one. I know of a professional librarian who uses it to query her colleagues around the world, and of at least one remarkably large company with a staff tweeter who monitors the bit-stream for customer insights and respond to any complaints that bubble up from the chatter. But what about smaller companies, professional practices, consultants, creatives, writers… you?

In my short life as a tweeter I’ve found a few business uses — it’s gotten me back in touch with a colleague for a possible collaboration, for one — but really I’ve gotten hooked on Twitter to follow the “story” that some tweet-streama reveal. For example take Ingen Bio Group, “the leading private human pharmaceutical development company in the world” and Dr. Leonard J. Kendall who tweets as IngenBio and has said:

05:38 PM July 30, 2008 from web
Thorne log> I wasn’t able to stop him. Kendall was killed in the explosion. 03:46 PM

July 30, 2008 from web
Thorne, Sgt. Garrett – INTRAGEN EXPOSURE >QUARANTINE HOLDING 4.30.95 >Ingen Bio – Security Command >ITC CLEARANCE LEVEL – RE … … 03:17 PM

July 30, 2008 from web
. …- . .-.. -.– -.

02:47 AM July 29, 2008 from web
http://tinyurl.com/6qom2q

09:12 PM July 28, 2008 from web
The Salt Lake Times – Warehouse Explosion Kills Cancer Scientist April 16, 1995 – 10:13 a.m. CT

08:48 PM July 28, 2008 from web
KENDALL LOG//DELETE – FILE RECOVERY INCOMPLETE / UNABLE TO RESTORE

12:38 AM July 28, 2008 from web
1:08:00:00 FIGHT.SURVIVE.INFECT.

Wait… back up… “Fight. Survive. Infect?!

Then I played the video Dr. K linked to this morning… and have to conclude this is either one of the best viral marketing campaigns or social media art works I’ve seen. Very cool. Though the excitement of discovery has passed the intrigues of Dr. Leonard J. Kendall and the Imogen Bio Group continue amaze and entertain. And I still don’t know if they’re a corporate security breach, a marketing promo for a movie or video game, or an emerging literary form.

What do you think?

Update โ€“ I just ran across a January post called 9 Benefits of Twitter for Bloggers by Darren Rowse on ProBlogger that expands considerably on my post. What caught my eye was this chart of Darren’s traffic since he started “taking Twitter seriously.” ProBlogger traffic increase

Suffice to say that if you found my post of interest and you’re a blogger you want to check this out.