Library of Congress still planning to archive all public Twitter posts
July 22, 2012 | 10:03 pm
Last December I mentioned that the Library of Congress was planning to archive every tweet ever tweeted publicly for use in research and the edification of future generations. Lately there have been some rumors that the LoC was backing off from the project, but a recent post in the Nieman Journalism Lab reports that the plan is definitely still happening, though the Library is still in the process of figuring out how to archive the data and what kind of access to permit.
While this doesn’t necessarily have a lot to do with e-books, it’s worth pointing out in light of the changing roles of libraries. Libraries are archives of knowledge, after all, but the kind of knowledge they’re called upon to archive is changing a great deal—whether that’s books versus e-books, or one kind of Internet posting versus another.
It’s tempting to look at this project and say, as one person did, that “It’s critical the future generations know what flavor burrito I had for lunch.” But not all Twitter postings are necessarily so banal, and by making it easy for researchers to study how news and reactions to it propagate it’s possible that this could lead to some interesting new sociological understandings. And after all, that’s one of the things a library is for—to make it possible for people to find things out.