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Library of Congress To Archive All Public Tweets 171

Posted by timothy
from the he-ain't-heavy-he's-less-than-140-chars dept.
After the recent announcement that Groklaw will be archived at the Library of Congress, mjn writes with word that the push to archive more digital content continues: "The US Library of Congress announced a deal with Twitter to archive all public tweets, dating back to Twitter's inception in March 2006. More details at their blog. No word yet on precisely what will be done with the collection, but besides entering your friends' important updates on the quality of breakfast into the permanent archival record, the deal may improve access for researchers wanting to analyze and mine Twitter's giant database."
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Library of Congress To Archive All Public Tweets

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 14, 2010 @02:25PM (#31848522)

    And just because you don't have to, doesn't mean you shouldn't!

    This is probably the best way to capture a snapshot of our current society. Sure, the barrier for entry is a little lower, but I think this will be invaluable for historians who look back and try to understand us.

    Or, if anything, it'll confuse the hell out of them .

    Everyone wins either way!

    captcha: formally

  • The only time... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by comm2k (961394) on Wednesday April 14, 2010 @02:28PM (#31848556)
    The only time I really actively used Twitter was during the recent LHC 3.5TeV event, because the webstream was completely overloaded. LoC preserving it? Future generations will look back and conclude that some people REALLY did have to TOO much time and trivial stuff to share.
  • Legal implications? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by slimjim8094 (941042) <slashdot3NO@SPAMjustconnected.net> on Wednesday April 14, 2010 @02:35PM (#31848662)

    All 'useless twits' jokes aside, this is pretty interesting. But I wonder if they'd run into any copyright laws.

    Reading the Twitter ToS turns up with this:

    You retain your rights to any Content you submit, post or display on or through the Services. By submitting, posting or displaying Content on or through the Services, you grant us a worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free license (with the right to sublicense) to use, copy, reproduce, process, adapt, modify, publish, transmit, display and distribute such Content in any and all media or distribution methods (now known or later developed).

    which looks to me like posters retain copyright, but Twitter retains the right to grant others the same license you've granted them (non-exclusive license to provide their service).

    So based on my reading, Twitter (and the LoC) are in the clear?

  • Re:Pooping (Score:4, Interesting)

    by lee1026 (876806) on Wednesday April 14, 2010 @02:36PM (#31848674)

    I know you are joking, but this kind of stuff is actually very important to historians. For example, the only reason we are able to reconstruct how many hours a day people worked in the medieval era is by looking at court records - the judge will ask things like "what were you doing at five" and the person will respond with answers like "eating" or "sleeping" or "working", and by going though a lot of court records, we were able to guess at how people lived back then.

    This will allow the historian of the future to guess much more accurately.

  • Re:Why? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by ColdWetDog (752185) on Wednesday April 14, 2010 @02:36PM (#31848684) Homepage
    Seriously, why not? Mayhaps this will be a treasure trove for some unsuspecting social scientist in the 23rd Century. Really, the study of what boring, routine stuff people do day in and day out is important and can yield valuable insights into the past.

    Of course, that assumes that budding social scientists in the 23rd century can read [imdb.com].
  • Re:The only time... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jfengel (409917) on Wednesday April 14, 2010 @02:39PM (#31848710) Homepage Journal

    Future generations will look back and conclude that some people REALLY did have to TOO much time and trivial stuff to share.

    Sure, why not? You never know what sort of insights you'll get. What people do in their free time is just as important to historians as what they do when they're working. More so, sometimes, since the work is often ephemeral while the free time is an important insight into the culture as a whole.

    Most of it's garbage, but garbage middens are one of anthropology's favorite data sources.

  • Small data set (Score:4, Interesting)

    by fulldecent (598482) on Wednesday April 14, 2010 @02:46PM (#31848796) Homepage

    Math for the day:

    Without compression, all tweets in human history will fit on a single hard drive costing less than $100.

    http://search.twitter.com/search?q=a [twitter.com] (to find the latest tweet number)
    http://twitter.com/about [twitter.com] (character limit)
    http://www.pricewatch.com/hard_removable_drives/ [pricewatch.com] (1.5TB drive)Delete

    http://www.google.com/buzz/fulldecent/18tfNfPHSBp/Math-for-the-day-Without-compression-all-tweets-in [google.com]

  • Re:hmm... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by natehoy (1608657) on Wednesday April 14, 2010 @02:48PM (#31848848) Journal

    They were probably too busy watching Medieval Idol to even realize who Shakespeare or the King was ;)

    A jest, I know, but it does demonstrate a serious point.

    Our history books are based on records maintained by the winners of wars, the leaders, the successful, etc. We know a lot about Shakespeare. We know relatively little about how his audiences actually felt about his work.

    We largely speculate as to how life was for the ordinary folk during historical periods based on writings about them, not writings from them. The exception to this is diaries, and now many people maintain those any more. Twitter can help replace some of that perspective.

    Admittedly, Twitter is not an ideal way to get a picture of a society, but you get to hear historical events told from a very different perspective. Actually, you get to hear them from LOTS of perspectives. They may not be an accurate portrayal of the events, but they are a snapshot of how a society reacts to and perceives events.

    Who will represent the narcissists in society for future generations?

  • For the future (Score:3, Interesting)

    by SmallFurryCreature (593017) on Wednesday April 14, 2010 @03:01PM (#31849012) Journal

    We learned more about ancient Egypt from their twitter then from all the official records designed to be survive the ages. Sure sure, very interesting to read the "unbiased" record of a pharaoh in his own tomb, but it is from the "trash" notes that were recovered that we learned about how the country itself worked. Including such little details as that the pyramids were not made by slaves.

    The official records of the US will be Fox news. Better pray that future researchers have access to some other source, or they will come back in time and nukes us all, causality be damned.

  • Re:Why? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by maxwell demon (590494) on Wednesday April 14, 2010 @03:07PM (#31849096) Journal

    Soon after, he publishes a paper with his revolutionary new theory: People in the 21st century were so forgetful that they decided to record all details about their daily life in a central database so they could recover it if necessary.

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