There's only been one story in most of the UK National papers this year so far, apart from 'Apple releases some fairly dull equipment', and that's been Twitter. Last year everyone was talking about Facebook, with one firm of lawyers over here banning its use before it took over the bandwidth completely.
This time around it's Twitter that's got us all a-twitter. This one is actually proving livelier than Facebook because more fake celebrities are cropping up - you can have as many people libelling each other or wasting time on Facebook as you want, but if someone purporting to be Britney Spears posts a note about how parts of her body have teeth where there should be none (use your imagination, it was personal and insulting, yes, I think you've got it) and the whole media goes wild.
Which on balance is probably why you get articles like this one in the national press. OK, let's take a step back; the columnist doesn't like Twitter, which is allowed. Also she feels very strongly about it and condemns all of us who use it, which is fine - she's paid to express strong views, not say 'it's OK but not really for me'.
Unfortunately she's clearly failed to give the new medium a chance. Yes it's like a continuing Facebook update (I have my own Twitter feed linked to Facebook so they both update at the same time). But that's kind of the idea. Just before Christmas I asked whether anyone thought there was mileage in a book on the social networking process; within ten minutes I had a response from the head of Wiley in America and I'm now in contact with the UK branch. Maybe it'll come to something, maybe it won't, but it's actual business and quality contact I wouldn't have had if not for this new technology.
This isn't the only time. One of my interests is in running a training company - I won't bore you with the details, I'm sure Daniweb will happily sell me an ad when it's appropriate - but I had some spaces on a course so I threw out a note offering Twitter people a discount. By the end of that week I had four figures' worth of sales. Not enough to make a course worthwhile in itself, certainly, but not a bad return on typing a 140 character message into a computer.
Then there's the social aspect. No, really. I work alone and I don't have those water cooler moments many people will do. So I chat to people on Twitter - daft jokes, dumb comments, and the links they put forward to articles on the Web are genuinely interesting.
There's certainly a backlash against this stuff in the UK and I suspect this will continue for a while. I'm certainly not here to promote technology for technology's sake but speaking for myself the business benefits since taking Twitter up and actually using it properly a couple of months ago have been considerable.