Twitter's photo sharing service is here. Which doesn't sound like a big deal, on the surface of it, unless you're running one of the Twitter services they're going to squash. But watch this video.

Hashtags are now giant photo clouds. So, the hashtag for #launch will show a bajillion photos from the last shuttle launch, or any other images with the #launch hashtag. Imagine thousands of photos uploaded from Japan during the tsunami, simultaneously. Or from any major, world-changing (or not so world-changing) event. Real-time streams of many, many views from many, many different people. And it's all cataloged, all searchable (including videos), all real-time. (This is all the engineering behind the new search, if you're curious.)

You'll be able to upload with new versions of Twitter apps and the website over the next couple of weeks, while non-smartphone users will be able to upload them using MMS, once Twitter gets the carrier details worked out. Photobucket's the one hosting the photos, so hopefully this won't like, cripple Twitter.

Sure, Facebook's the biggest photo sharing service in the world and Flickr's the one people with photoboners use. But I think Twitter's effectively become the most vital. Which sort of seemed inevitable, in bits and pieces. The photo of the plane that went down in the Hudson, or what became the iconic photo of the shuttle launch, snapped from a phone on a plane. Those were on Twitter, not Facebook or Flickr. We didn't stay glued to Facebook during the Japan tsunami or the revolutions in the Middle East. And the next time something insane or truly breaking happens, we'll probably watch it on Twitter again. But we'll get to really see it.

You can insert some shitty pun about 140 characters vs. 1000 words here at the end, if you like. [Twitter]