Yes, this is an off-topic post. I’m entitled to do that occasionally.

This post in ars technica got my attention: Library of Congress: We’re archiving every tweet ever made.

Get ready for fame, tweeters of the world: the Library of Congress is archiving for posterity every public tweet made since the service went live back in 2006. Every. Single. Tweet.

The LOC announced the news, appropriately enough, on Twitter. Twitter isn’t just about being pretentious and notifying the world about the contents of your lunch (though it’s about those things too).


When I first read the article I thought it was an April Fools joke. But, no, the article was published around April 14th, too close to tax day to be a joke although there is some irony in my mailing a check to the fed today and some sliver of it going to archive tweets about what someone’s dog had for breakfast that didn’t stay down. (For the record, I don’t tweet about my dog’s eating habits and her meals do (mostly) stay down.)

The ars technica article links to the Library of Congress blog site and their proud announcement is dated April 14th. So, the reality of this new acquisition is sinking in.

The Library of Congress explains the importance of this new collection through important examples of tweets in the past few years:

Just a few examples of important tweets in the past few years include the first-ever tweet from Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey (http://twitter.com/jack/status/20), President Obama’s tweet about winning the 2008 election (http://twitter.com/barackobama/status/992176676), and a set of two tweets from a photojournalist who was arrested in Egypt and then freed because of a series of events set into motion by his use of Twitter (http://twitter.com/jamesbuck/status/786571964) and (http://twitter.com/jamesbuck/status/787167620).

Ok, so there have been four important tweets beginning with that very first tweet by Jack on March 21, 2006. The twitter blog article on this partnership with the Library of Congress says billions of tweets have been created. Let’s say there have been 2 billion tweets created. Then 4 out of 2 billion (let me get my calculator out for this) is .000002%. (Hopefully I’m not off by a zero or three.) Anyway, you get my point. The noise to signal ratio here is pretty darn high.

It would sure be nice if someone could ferret out the useful tweets ’cause it would have taken me a really long time to have found those four good ones myself. I suppose, though, that I should be careful what I wish for. I don’t really want some of my tax dollars going to have a team of folks at the Library of Congress looking for that important but elusive fifth tweet.

I could keep venting but I’ve got to go mail my tax check before the Post Office closes.

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This entry was posted on Thursday, April 15th, 2010 at 2:54 pm and is filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or TrackBack URI from your own site.

2 Responses so far to "Library of Congress archiving every tweet"

  1. 1 Jonathan Rochkind
    April 15th, 2010 at 4:07 pm  

    Really, it pisses you off? Seems like a great thing for LC to be doing to me. So much of our electronic communications are just plain going to be lost, and not available in ‘archives’ for historians like 20th and previous century paper archives of communications. Which is a shame. Seems like a great role for the closest thing we have to a national library (they aren’t quite) to be archiving some of it.

  2. 2 mymoneymatters
    April 22nd, 2010 at 9:36 am  

    We aren’t talking about digging up ancient artifacts or discovering pictures on the walls of caves…we are talking about meaningless tweets by the millions. Who is ever going to want to study social history of millions of tidbits of non-essential communication from a spoiled, self-centered and shallow generation. Now if we are talking about preserving art, books, or various media that covers events that affect our society, that is a different story. But I don’t want to waste my taxes on cataloging what Joe Blow ate for breakfast or watched on TV or his favorite joke, or newest chain letter or porn advertisements…

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