The Twibary of Congress

Comments

1
It is the loss of classified ads dollars that is killing newspapers, not the loss of general ad dollars. That has been negligible. You can thank CraigsList for the (financial) state of newspapers today.
2
That's a total waste of my tax dollars. Nobody will ever read old tweets ever again.
3
what. the. fuck.

i hate twitter. and just lost a lot of respect for the LoC.

don't they have anything useful to do?
4
@2: I disagree. It can be hard for historians to discern what average people were thinking in any given moment of time, and these tweets could provide a window into the thoughts and preoccupations of the subaltern classes. They could be a gold mine to future historians.

During the Depression, volumes of personal narratives were collected from African Americans who had survived slavery. At that point they had all been children or teenagers under slavery, but the recollections recorded in those volumes have been immeasurably useful to historians, although there was very little academic interest in them until the sixties.

You never know what legacy we leave behind that will serve future generations. Of course, the argument could be made that we don't WANT future generations to know about Twitter.

5
The LoC also took the opportunity to announce that it holds "more than 167 terabytes of web-based information."

If this made your skin crawl under your tinfoil hat, you may be relieved to learn that they always ask permission before archiving a site.
6
@2 This sounds crazy, but as @4 points out this is the same thing but different times. The web is becoming the new historical record that print used to be, and historical records are very important. Twitter is more than you might think.
7
Before everyone shits their pants over this, the cost of storage long-term is functionally negligible, and the cost of recording the data is functionally negligible. Twitter probably just hands them a dump of data periodically, and we store it. This is not the end of the world. It's dumb, I suppose, but having the entirety of the public Twitterverse in one space for historical research COULD be interesting, to follow the trending path of historical discussion of a given topic... assuming that Twitter keeps growing more and more pervasively ingrained culturally. That could be interesting, to look back on as a sample of what people were interested in at any given time compared to what were the major news stories of a given day. Just sayin'.

As for the advertising thing, Craig Newmark alone has devastated the newspaper advertising model as TJ said.

As for the 167 terabytes, that's really not that much. You could carry the entire Library of Congress in a backpack. Organizing the entirety of that data into a useful, searchable archive is the bigger challenge.
8
I'm with @4 and @6. As someone who has spent an inordinate amount of time looking at old newspapers and magazines, the prosaic and trivial is often the most telling part. No one really cares what such-and-such a small-town paper thought about the burning issues of the day; and today's editorials about gay marriage or whatever will hold no interest in the future. But the small ads, and the social notes, who's having a party and what the decorations were, this stuff is fascinating and telling. In the future, the waves of Twitter peaks and valleys on various topics might well be useful to some really interesting history writing.

In that sense, I think a service like Twitter is very probably more interesting in retrospect, as a historical log, than it is today to the boobs looking at it (I know that every time I log in to Twitter, I immediately start to feel stupider).
9
When I saw the title, I thought that the Library was about to start collecting Twilight fan-fiction.
Reaction to that: http://woopatroopas.files.wordpress.com/…
10
@7: Bingo.
11
@7: I assume that twitpic images will be included in the stored info? Think of the cultural significance of billions upon billions of "isn't my pet so cute!" Twitpic image posts.
12
oh really? that will be great, a great source of resources.

Drew