Have I Learned To Twitter for Nothing?

07/28/2010 09:15 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

I've never been sure how to conjugate the verb, but do know that I tweet, I can twit, I do twitter, I have twitted, sometimes I twittled while signing in to Twitter and I will twitomorrow. On second thought, I think I've twitched while twitting, too. Wait, that brings up the more-complicated question if Twitter is even a verb. Isn't it a person, place or thing, making it a noun?

All these brain-twisting exercises might be for nothing. I saw a story on that was headlined, "Annenberg Study: 0% Would Pay for Twitter." I know Wallis Annenberg (and knew her father, Walter, and stepmother, Lenore), and my money was on the fact that none of them had Twittered or tweeted or twit, especially since Twitter came about long after Walter and Lenore would have noticed, let alone asked 1,981 people if they'd pay for it.

It turned out that the Twitter question about paying was just the icing on the cake of a survey by the USC Annenberg School for Communication about America's digital future. The bottom line was that more people are Internet reliant, but that there was "strong negative reaction to paying for online services."

Forty-nine percent of those surveyed said they used free micro-blogs such as Twitter. And, yes, zero percent said they would be willing to pay for Twitter.

My first thought was to dump my Twitter stock, and then I realized they still haven't found a way to generate enough revenue to take the company public. Ooops, I thought, Facebook is free, too. Wait. They don't issue stock either. Those guys probably knew what the Annenberg School is reporting.

Jeff Bezos at went the other way. At least his business sold something; but, still, from 1995 to 2002, he confidently assured the press and the shareholders that it was all right not to make a profit. I did buy that stock and stuck with him for a long time. Thanks, Jeff. People will pay for books and DVDs and portable readers.

Will people pay for something they've received for free? Will they choose a paid service or product or program when there are so many free ones available? Doesn't this sound like the broadcast TV versus cable argument and the satellite radio discussion?

The entire Annenberg study was fascinating, touching on all kinds of subjects about what we believe, where we go and what matters online.

Yet, I still can't believe that not one Twitter user would pay for it. What would happen to all the hours people spend on Twitter if it became a pay service? What if each of them contributed an hour a week to public service? How about if they helped Betty White with whatever charity she's helping these days. (We know she's not Tweeting.)

Start charging, Twitter. Maybe you can re-shape society to have people cook meals for others rather than just telling everyone what they ate for lunch.

And, yes, in the interest of full disclosure, I do Tweet, Twit and Twitter. I'd probably pay, too, just to stay in the club.