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Why Twitter Matters

Can the fledgling microblogging service become a social media powerhouse to rival giants like Facebookor will it be gobbled up?

It's easy to laugh at nonsense on Twitter, the microblogging rage. "My nose is leaking," writes someone called Zapples, "so imma go to sleep now.…" But I've heard lots of similar drivel (and even produced some myself) on the phone—an important technology if there ever was one.

The key question today isn't what's dumb on Twitter, but instead how a service with bite-size messages topping out at 140 characters can be smart, useful, maybe even necessary. Here's why I'm looking. In the last few months, the traffic on Twitter has exploded, growing far beyond its circles of bleeding-edge tech enthusiasts and hard-core social networkers.