Steven Johnson has written for Time what I wish I had the time to write:
Skeptics might wonder just how much subversion and wit is conveyable via 140-character updates. But in recent months Twitter users have begun to find a route around that limitation by employing Twitter as a pointing device instead of a communications channel: sharing links to longer articles, discussions, posts, videos — anything that lives behind a URL. Websites that once saw their traffic dominated by Google search queries are seeing a growing number of new visitors coming from “passed links” at social networks like Twitter and Facebook. This is what the naysayers fail to understand: it’s just as easy to use Twitter to spread the word about a brilliant 10,000-word New Yorker article as it is to spread the word about your Lucky Charms habit.
Put those three elements together — social networks, live searching and link-sharing — and you have a cocktail that poses what may amount to the most interesting alternative to Google’s near monopoly in searching. At its heart, Google’s system is built around the slow, anonymous accumulation of authority: pages rise to the top of Google’s search results according to, in part, how many links point to them, which tends to favor older pages that have had time to build an audience. That’s a fantastic solution for finding high-quality needles in the immense, spam-plagued haystack that is the contemporary Web. But it’s not a particularly useful solution for finding out what people are saying right now, the in-the-moment conversation that industry pioneer John Battelle calls the “super fresh” Web.
Thanks for the call out, Steven, and the pointer, Fred, and the original idea, Yusuf (Medhi, at Microsoft, who really should get the credit for the term).