Unless you’ve set your Twitter account to private, every time you ponder the meaning of a vapid celebrity’s fame or tweet about how much you love your new Spanx, those missives are public. If you only have say, 47 followers those tweets might not seem very public, but hey, maybe the Library of Congress is reading anyway.
It’s amassed more than 170 billion tweets thus far in its archiving efforts, and wants to make those available to researchers or others who might be interested in That Bon Mot You’re Super Proud Of From 2009’s Office Party.
CNN notes that the library has been working hard on this project since it signed an agreement in April 2010 to gain access to all public tweets since Twitter was born in 2006.
“Twitter is a new kind of collection for the Library of Congress but an important one to its mission,” Gayle Osterberg, the library’s director of communications, wrote in a blog post. “As society turns to social media as a primary method of communication and creative expression, social media is supplementing, and in some cases supplanting, letters, journals, serial publications and other sources routinely collected by research libraries.”
Sounds like the library is on a roll, as well, as it’s digitally archived everything it has right now and processing almost 500 million tweets per day. The next step is just figuring out how to get the information to those who want it — researchers have already submitted 400 requests for information on a wide variety of topics. No word on whether any of those are looking into studying what you want to eat for lunch on a daily basis.
It doesn’t sound like a person could just type in a twitter handle and immediately be launched into a retrospective of that account, as the library is in the process of perhaps first allowing access to the database in its Washington reading rooms. Kind of like when you had to use the microfiche machine to research a paper in grade school and had to go to the library to actually do so. Very retro.
Who else feels like using #LibraryOfCongress on all future tweets just to get included in the archive? There’s no fame like library fame!
Update on the Twitter Archive at the Library of Congress [Library of Congress]
Library of Congress digs into 170 billion tweets [CNN]