US Library of Congress to archive Twitter messages

Apr 14, 2010
The front facade of the US Library of Congress in Washington, DC. The US Library of Congress said Wednesday it plans to digitally archive all of the billions of messages known as "tweets" sent on Twitter since its launch four years ago.

The US Library of Congress said Wednesday it plans to digitally archive all of the billions of messages known as "tweets" sent on Twitter since its launch four years ago.

"Library to acquire ENTIRE archive -- ALL public tweets, ever, since March 2006!" the Washington-based library, the world's largest, announced in a message on its Twitter account at Twitter.com/librarycongress.

"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," Matt Raymond of the Library of Congress added in a blog post.

Raymond highlighted the "scholarly and research implications" of acquiring the micro-blogging service's archive.

He said the messages being archived include the first-ever "," sent by Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey, and the one that ran on Barack Obama's Twitter feed when he was elected president.

"Just setting up my twttr," Dorsey wrote on March 21, 2006.

Obama told his Twitter followers on November 5, 2008, a day after his historic presidential win: "We just made history. All of this happened because you gave your time, talent and passion. All of this happened because of you."

Raymond said the move is part of the library's effort to preserve "significant " for future generations.

The Library of Congress houses millions of books, recordings, photographs, manuscripts and maps.

In another Twitter-related announcement on Wednesday, Internet giant unveiled a new tool that allows users to search, select and "replay" what people said on the micro-blogging service at a particular point in time.

"Tweets and other short-form updates create a history of commentary that can provide valuable insights into what's happened and how people have reacted," Google said. "We want to give you a way to search across this information and make it useful."

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User comments : 14

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ThanderMAX
3.7 / 5 (3) Apr 14, 2010
Question is why ?

Most of the tweet is worthless .

It won't make good impression (about current generation) for future generation.
danman5000
3.7 / 5 (3) Apr 14, 2010
What a tremendous waste of time and storage space. They need to be made aware of the study that shows only 12.3% of twitter content might possibly have value (but likely doesn't). The title of that article says it all.
http://www.physor...346.html
MorituriMax
3 / 5 (2) Apr 14, 2010
I second that... why? Should we also be sending all our trash to the Library of Congress?
trekgeek1
3 / 5 (4) Apr 14, 2010
It's not a waste. We are storing who we are for future generations. It has implications for social studies and history. We have the capability to store them, so why not? Wouldn't you want the tweets of ancient Romans from 2000 years ago? It will give future humans a personal window into the lives of citizens from 2010.
Caliban
1 / 5 (1) Apr 14, 2010
It's not a waste. We are storing who we are for future generations. It has implications for social studies and history. We have the capability to store them, so why not? Wouldn't you want the tweets of ancient Romans from 2000 years ago? It will give future humans a personal window into the lives of citizens from 2010.


Asolutely unecessary- all of that is already archived/captured by current novels, short stories, poetry, music, film et c. Total waste of taxpayer dollars.
x646d63
1 / 5 (1) Apr 14, 2010
I agree with @trekgeek1. Mundane life is what we are. Very few of us are novelists, poets and musicians. Twitter is the first step in archiving the musings of ordinary people for future history. It will have value and it's pretty inexpensive to capture.
Bloodoflamb
1 / 5 (1) Apr 14, 2010
I also agree with trekgeek. Tweets capture public social interaction and general public opinion better than archiving other forms of media. As much as I hate Twitter.
Graeme
1 / 5 (1) Apr 14, 2010
This is worthwhile. It is exciting enough to unearth things I wrote 30 years ago on the computer. The entire collection will be of value to others in the future.
Bob_B
3 / 5 (2) Apr 15, 2010
Why can't the company store it? The government is not the right method to store these.
Caliban
not rated yet Apr 15, 2010
I tweet, therefore I am?
Hundreds of years from now the essence of human existence will be discovered in the twitter archive??? You expect to be immortalized because "...dude-I just dripped mustard on my shirt-lol!"????!!!

Pathetic.
Coldstatic
3 / 5 (2) Apr 15, 2010
since no one else has raised the red flag of conspiracy i will... maybe the government just wants daily updates??? this reminds me of the story about that guy that was caught caught for laundering through twitter, personally i don't care but this really is a waste of time and money. I could think of many more ways to spend this money...
denijane
3 / 5 (2) Apr 15, 2010
"Raymond highlighted the "scholarly and research implications" of acquiring the micro-blogging service's archive."
Yeah, not to mention the intelligence-related benefits. Because let's face it, people who tweet regularly, tweet their life, interests and what impresses them. Such an archive will be extremely valuable if you want to trace how the public reacts to certain event.
The question is why a library has to archive them, when the site is online and you can always find what you want online.
Bloodoflamb
1 / 5 (1) Apr 15, 2010
Because let's face it, people who tweet regularly, tweet their life, interests and what impresses them.
And such information would be COMPLETELY useless to anthropologists 50 years from now.

... Wait... They would think that this is a GOLD MINE of information. A way to systematically categorize the thoughts of an average person of this time. Ask a modern anthropologist if they would have wanted something similar for every era from the last 2000 years. They'll say yes.
xamien
1 / 5 (1) Apr 16, 2010
I find it interesting that after a certain point in the comments on this article, most comments were given a single rating of 1 star out of 5. I'm not sure I understand what conclusion to draw from this as to people's reactions to LoC storing the tweets.
Someone else did, however, make a very valid point. Our most valuable observations on ancient history have come from artifacts detailing day-to-day life of ordinary people of the time. These tweets may not be terribly interesting to us but this is not sufficient basis to judge the archive's worth and is, in fact, biased opinion of participants of the time.