Tweet Tweet

Could you have ever imagined a library full of tweets? The Library of Congress is one step closer to making this possible.

Last month, Mashable (one of my favorite sites to get my social media news from) published this article describing the Library of Congress’ work-in-progress to archive all public tweets from Twitter’s inception in 2006 to 2010. The thought of Tweeples’ public tweets neatly arranged and accessible for researchers is such an exciting idea to me! What a great resource for studying the way people communicate online.

Concerning our class topics of Wikis and RSS feeds, I have to wonder if there will be future projects concerning the social media archival systems. What about one for blogs that contains a searchable database of public blog entries? Or a tracking system for all edits of public Wikis like Wikipedia? There is potential for this in the corporate and nonprofit library sector as well, as I see that tonight there will be an SLIS presentation concerning records management by SocialArchive for organizations’ and companies’ social media accounts.

As exciting as this is for a research-loving nerd like myself, it’s also a bit frightening when I take privacy into consideration. True, this is all public information, but the thought of my 2006 self’s (a mere college freshman!) tweets on display within the Library of Congress is cringe-inducing. BRB, going to go delete some potentially embarrassing messages 140 characters in length or less…

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7 thoughts on “Tweet Tweet

  1. Nicole Wiley

    The amount of data that these databases would cover is staggering! What kinds of research would like to see done with this data?

    (I worry about privacy in these kinds of situations too. Minors and such use Facebook and Twitter, after all. And, like you, me as a mistake-making college freshman!)

    Reply
    1. Nomi

      It would also be challenging to figure out how to search such databases, because people use all kinds of short-hand/abbreviation and people tend to be lazy about checking for typos, etc. I would imagine that doing any searches would take a lot of adjusting in order to come up with a real representation of what has been said on any given topic. Thoughts?

      Reply
      1. A. Zuniga Post author

        I’m sure (a long, long way) down the line there will be search algorithm adjustments for misspellings, much like Google has. I think one of the most interesting things you could search for is hashtags, or even searching through tweets in a certain geographical area during a specific event (i.e. the Presidential election) to gauge users’ responses to real-life occurrences.

    2. A. Zuniga Post author

      I would love to see research done on the choices of hashtags people use. There are so many! Some spontaneously/cheekily made up, others used from the “Now trending” section on Twitter, and those suggested by companies or television shows. These are good ways to catalog data, and the users often do it themselves (a researcher’s dream). I also like to see research done on the amount and content of response in the digital realm about real-life events (i.e. the Presidential debate, sports events, natural disasters). It creates really good fodder for effective storytelling.

      Reply
  2. lslattengren

    I recently downloaded my twitter archive (all 5500 tweets…) and reading through them can be embarrassing. Sometimes I think I should just stop since so many of them seem so silly and inconsequential. At the same time, though, I have had some great connections through Twitter so I know there is good in what I have tweeted. When I looked through them, however, I found it to be an interesting archive of the past several years of my life. I don’t keep a journal but I have a chronological history of my recent adulthood, just in tweets. I can see some value in that and when added together with the tweets of millions of others that have been archived, there is a potential to find a narrative of our recent history that has never been kept in such a way before. I just don’t want to be the person to go trough and try to make sense of it all!

    Reply
    1. A. Zuniga Post author

      Definitely! It really is like a public journal. Sometimes I’ll read my past tweets and smirk proudly at my sparkling wit 😉 Othertimes, I cringe at something super embarrassing haha. It chronicles tiny or large moments in life succintly, and I think that’s part of its appeal. I believe there are some external programs you can use to even make books out of your tweets and Instagram photos…a digital diary turned physical. You’ve inspired me to download my Twitter archive! It isn’t as extensive as yours, but I’m sure it will be entertaining.

      Reply

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