I've been on twitter for a few months now, but I have to admit, I wasn't really getting it until I read this. I mean, there are clearly many ways to use twitter, including the reason that twitter gives you: to broadcast your current status.
But I, like many, don't really feel the need to tell people when I'm pooping, and also don't feel the need to know when others are pooping. I think this is why many people dismiss twitter, like I did until recently.
But, in the exchange linked to above, something really familiar happens: someone overhears a public conversation. And that's what I now realize is the most useful analogy for twitter: public conversation.
IM is cool, but it's limited by nature; it's a connection between two points. Twitter allows similar exchanges, but in public, so anyone can join, and anyone can search for what people are saying on any given subject.
I think it actually accomplishes a lot of the same stuff as the party chat we've been using: it's low-involvement, people can pay as much attention to it as they feel like, and not everyone has to be engaged in the conversation to follow it.
I feel like a lot of people would be more interested, or at least less resistant to it if they marketed it this way and provided an IM interface. Apparently there used to be an IM interface, but they took it down in October because it was buggy, and they've put it on their long-term to do list, with no update since.
There's a bot that uses jabber called excla.im, but I couldn't get it to work, and it apparently only allows you to send tweets, not get them.
So, that's too bad. Digsby's twitter functionality is pretty good, but the interface is not great. I don't see why they don't offer their functionality in the form of a contact, with the exact same user interaction as any other contact. That would make me happy.