This is more of an observation than anything else. I have been using Twitter for over a year now. Sometimes actively, sometimes not. I have both personal and business accounts on Twitter @pramsey and @qedmethods, I use the personal account to follow my cycling heroes and some people I think are interesting or funny. On the business side, I follow people who are more business oriented, either way I need to vet out who I'm following or who's following me.
Anyway back to the topic at hand. Lately I've seen Twitter used to keep track of the elections in Iran, bombings in India, power outages in Virginia or who won the latest version of the Bachelorette (just kidding, I don't watch the Bachelorette). What I feel is interesting is that for breaking news I'm going to Twitter now, I know that someone on Twitter knows about the issue, and can point me to information about it. An example is something that happened the other day. I was checking Twitter and discovered that one of my favorite cyclists, Taylor Phinney (@taylorphinney), was injured in a bike race (possible serious head injuries), I searched twitter and I found a message by his coach Axel Merckx (@axelmerckx) saying that Taylor was going to be fine (it was interesting because I found this out possibly before his father knew).
As I was checking out Twitter for news on Taylor, I was also searching Google for information, nothing had hit Google News concerning this issue, through Twitter I found out about the issue and the result along with video from the incident posted to YouTube, well before mainstream media and Google picked it up. I found it interesting how the "citizen" reporter got me information and a little research on my side quickly allowed me to find credible sources of information well before the news got it online. This should have Google a bit scared...
There are tools that will run automated searches on Twitter for you, they will allow you to search for topics that interest you. TweetDeck is a great example of this. I have a lot of interesting ideas, many think I'm foolish for being active on Twitter, but I'd rather be considered foolish by some, than left behind by the masses. Twitter is a place that you can spend a large amount of time doing something silly, but it's also a place where you can gain a large amount of information, if you properly apply the tools that are available. Businesses need to be more involved in reviewing what goes on in places like Twitter, and become active in their communities.