TechCrunch has a good post today on the significance of Twitter. Erick Schonfeld points out that a datastream like Twitter provides "a different kind of search engine altogether. A real-time search engine. A what’s-happening-right-now search engine." And the information returned by such as search is very different from that returned by Google, in which information is privileged by number of incoming links (among other factors, of course -- I don't want to oversimplify Google's algorithm).
The difference, Schonfeld argues, is that Google captures people's intent. Twitter captures trends ("what people are doing or what they are thinking about").
That, he says, is why Twitter has merited another round of funding. And if I can inject my own analysis here, this is also why social media types have gone crazy over Twitter and its potential: Google is for marketing with SEO, SEM, and paid search, but Twitter is for detecting trends and holding conversations in real time. Unbelievably, Google can now be considered the king of the "slow" media.
But so far Twitter has not done much to capitalize on its search potential: Summize, which is now search.twitter.com, is still a fairly rudimentary search engine. Let's hope that this new round of funding is applied to cracking that nut.