File under 'ephemera': Library of Congress to launch Twitter archive

Historical archive of tweets will allow researchers to do data mining and future generations to track Kim Kardashian.

This Pulse of the Nation video is an example of the kinds of information researchers can glean from analyzing tweets. The Library of Congress' Twitter archive will allow analysis on a historical basis.
This Pulse of the Nation video is an example of the kinds of information researchers can glean from analyzing tweets. The Library of Congress' Twitter archive will allow analysis on a historical basis. Jukka-Pekka Onnela, Yong-Yeol Ahn, J. Niels Rosenquist,Alan Mislove, Sune Lehmann

Your tweets are about to become part of American history.

The Library of Congress plans to create an archive of every public tweet sent in Twitter's five-year history.

The library has an agreement with Twitter to move the billions and billions of public tweets from Twitter servers to its own servers, Bill Lefurgy, the digital initiatives program manager at the library's national digital information infrastructure and preservation program, said in an interview with Federal News Radio yesterday.

Twitter is full of uninteresting noise, no doubt. But its aggregate data will be a valuable tool for researchers who want to look for trends using data-mining techniques. For example, there are already sites that use Twitter to gauge the short-term mood of Twitter users. One hedge fund thinks it can use Twitter to outperform the stock market.

"We were excited to be involved with acquiring the Twitter archives because it's a unique record of our time," Lefurgy said. "It's also a unique way of communication. It's not so much that people are going to be interested in what you or I had for lunch, which some people like to say on Twitter."

Unless you have the exact URL of a tweet, you need a service like TwimeMachine or Google's Twitter search to go back and search for tweets older than a few weeks.

The agreement between the Library of Congress and Twitter was first announced in April 2010. In a tweet today, the Library of Congress said: "2010 news of Twitter's gift to us is getting new legs. We are still working out access issues. Stay tuned."

Updated 3:22 p.m. PT with Library of Congress tweet and background.

 

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