HOME
          
LATEST STORY
Complicating the network: The year in social media research
ABOUT                    SUBSCRIBE
July 19, 2012, 10:38 a.m.
Twitter preserved

That plan to archive every tweet in the Library of Congress? Definitely still happening

It has turned out to be quite an undertaking, but the Library plans to make good on its promise to America.

Twitter preserved

A little more than two years ago, the Library of Congress announced it would preserve every public tweet, ever, for future generations.

That’s right. Every public tweet, ever, since Twitter’s inception in March 2006, will be archived digitally at the Library of Congress. That’s a LOT of tweets, by the way: Twitter processes more than 50 million tweets every day, with the total numbering in the billions.

Fifty million tweets a day. How cute. That number is now 400 million, according to Twitter CEO Dick Costolo. (The first comment on the project’s FAQ page sums up much of the Internet’s reaction: “It’s critical the future generations know what flavor burrito I had for lunch.”)

We hadn’t heard about this project in some time. Last week a story on Canada.com quoted a social-media researcher as saying the LoC “has quietly backed away from the commitment.”

False, said Library spokeswoman Jennifer Gavin; the project is very much still happening. Good librarianship, she said, moves more slowly than Twitter.

“The process of how to serve it out to researchers is still being worked out, but we’re getting a lot of closer,” Gavin told me. “I couldn’t give you a date specific of when we’ll be ready to make the announcement.”

The Library first revealed its plans in a tweet on April 14, 2010, but apparently that was before sorting out with Twitter the logistics of acquiring all that data. Petabytes of data.

“We began receiving the material, portions of it, last year. We got that system down. Now we’re getting it almost daily,” Gavin said. “And of course, as I think is obvious to anyone who follows Twitter, it has ended up being a very large amount of material.”

Gavin said the archive will be made available to anyone with a library card, but only on the premises in Washington. “My understanding is that at this time we do not intend to make it available by web,” she said, but that may be subject to change. It’s not meant to be the Ultimate Twitter Search Box we’ve always dreamed of.

In fact, there will be a six-month embargo on fresh tweets (even though, obviously, the data is publicly available — if you can find it). That agreement has been in place since the deal was struck. Twitter said then the tweets could be used only “for internal library use, for non-commercial research, public display by the library itself, and preservation.”

The challenge now is finding ways to refine the raw data in useful ways. Sort by keywords? Date? Sentiment? Burrito flavor? Gavin said the Library is still figuring out the user interface.

POSTED     July 19, 2012, 10:38 a.m.
SHARE THIS STORY
   
Show comments  
Show tags
 
Join the 15,000 who get the freshest future-of-journalism news in our daily email.
Complicating the network: The year in social media research
Journalist’s Resource sifts through the academic journals so you don’t have to. Here are 12 of the studies about social and digital media they found most interesting in 2014.
News in a remix-focused culture
“We have to stop thinking about how to leverage whatever hot social platform is making headlines and instead spend time understanding how communication is changing.”
Los Angeles is the content future
“Creative content people are frustrated with the industry and creating their content on their own terms. Sound familiar?”
What to read next
500
tweets
Complicating the network: The year in social media research
Journalist’s Resource sifts through the academic journals so you don’t have to. Here are 12 of the studies about social and digital media they found most interesting in 2014.
339Finance media’s hottest club is Ello
Business reporters flocking to the platform won’t radically change journalism, but it’s worth asking why users gather where they do.
305Why Google is taking another shot at helping readers pay for news
Google Contributor is the latest tool the company has designed to help readers pay for what they read online. But its previous experiments in supporting paid content have had limited success.
These stories are our most popular on Twitter over the past 30 days.
See all our most recent pieces ➚
Encyclo is our encyclopedia of the future of news, chronicling the key players in journalism’s evolution.
Here are a few of the entries you’ll find in Encyclo.   Get the full Encyclo ➚
The Bay Citizen
Foursquare
Al Jazeera
The New Republic
Chicago News Cooperative
Grist
Storify
Kickstarter
ReadWrite
American Independent News Network
MediaBugs
McClatchy