Paul Stamatiou, a student at Georgia Tech University, and some of his classmates have written an academic paper on Twitter as an online community.
Paul writes in his post announcing the paper:
We focused on how Twitter’s sheer accessibility through a variety of clients (IM, SMS, mobile website, regular website, third-party apps) combined with the short 140 character or less tweets have made Twitter a real-time and ubiquitous form of social communication and networking.
We also focused equally on how the original intent of Twitter, getting users to answer the question “what are you doing,” has been put in the backseat as creative users find new uses for the service, thus turning Twitter into a highly versatile form of communication. If you have been an active Twitter at one point or another, you have definitely seen people use Twitter for sharing things that don’t exactly answer what they’re doing. Versatility made Twitter what it is today.
I expect that we’ll see more academic research on Twitter and similar communities that we know today in the Web 2.0 community in the months ahead…