April 15, 2010

Twitter Messages Added To Library Of Congress Archive

The billions and billions of 140-character-or-less messages sent out by users of the Twitter social networking service since it launched on March 21, 2006 will be archived by the Library of Congress, officials announced on Wednesday.

The announcement was made, fittingly, through the Library of Congress's own Twitter account, as they announced the addition to their archives by tweeting, "Library acquires ENTIRE Twitter archive. ALL tweets." Thus, each individual who has ever contributed to the network's estimated 50 million daily public tweets will now find their work preserved alongside the millions of books, audio and video recordings, photos, maps, and more that currently make up the agency's collection.

"Expect to see an emphasis on the scholarly and research implications of the acquisition," Matt Raymond, the Library's Director of Communications, wrote in an April 14 blog post.

"I'm no Ph.D., but it boggles my mind to think what we might be able to learn about ourselves and the world around us from this wealth of data," he added. "And I'm certain we'll learn things that none of us now can even possibly conceive."

Among the notable tweets that will now be archived by the Library of Congress are the first ever tweet, posted in 2006 by Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey, as well as President Barack Obama's tweet after winning the 2008 presidential election and tweets from photojournalism student James Buck, who was arrested in Egypt and freed in part because of his posts on the social networking website.

Also on Wednesday, Google unveiled a new tool that will allow users to search through Twitter posts. According to CNN.com, "The new feature adds a timeline at the top of the results page that shows the relative volume of tweets about that topic, and then allows users to choose a time period--a year, month, day, hour, or even minute--from which to read public tweets."


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