Twitter is commonly seen as a place for a lot of silly chit chat, what I had for breakfast, the antics of my cat, what I think of the PM and so on. It is increasingly a place used by scholars and academics to debate, albeit in 140 character chunks, promote their ideas and share new finds. It can be used like Google for searching. You can, using an application like Tweetdeck1 to monitor people or phrases, much like you can with Google alerts. When searching in Twitter you can use the same Boolean operators to include, exclude and combine words2.