From Z. Kelly Queijo:
The very first telephone I remember using was in a house my family rented in 1962 in rural Chatham, Virginia. I was 4 years old. We had one heavy, black rotary telephone that sat on the counter in the kitchen. We were new to the area and had only one neighbor. Needless to say, the phone hardly ever rang at our house, but that didn't mean people weren't talking. Our phone service was called a "multiparty line" or "party line" for short. You could pick up the phone and hear the conversations others on the line were having. Sound familiar? Think Twitter.
Party lines are not that different from certain aspects of Twitter. Communication takes place in a semi-public platform in what TechCrunch calls a real-time thought stream or "nowness." Users can observe or participate in the conversation whether or not they are invited to do so.
Wikipedia states that party lines were often a source of entertainment and gossip. It's safe to say the same holds true with Twitter. If you want to know what your fav celeb (Ashton, Oprah, Britney, or Ellen?) says he or she is doing, you follow them on Twitter.