April 15, 2010

Everything ever written in Twitter — every little tweet, from anybody — is now archived in the Library of Congress.

Is this a wonderful preservation of a rich mine of historical and sociological information or creepy government intrusion into the private domain?
[I]t boggles my mind to think what we might be able to learn about ourselves and the world around us from this wealth of data. And I’m certain we’ll learn things that none of us now can even possibly conceive....

So if you think the Library of Congress is “just books,” think of this: The Library has been collecting materials from the web since it began harvesting congressional and presidential campaign websites in 2000....
Nerds trying to be hip?
Today we hold more than 167 terabytes of web-based information, including legal blogs, websites of candidates for national office, and websites of Members of Congress.
Including legal blogs.... 
We also operate the National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program www.digitalpreservation.gov, which is pursuing a national strategy to collect, preserve and make available significant digital content, especially information that is created in digital form only, for current and future generations.

In other words, if you’re looking for a place where important historical and other information in digital form should be preserved for the long haul, we’re it!
Good. I guess.

ADDED: Jull Weiner says it's "a move that’s clearly intended to out-postmodern MoMA’s acquisition of the @ symbol."

24 comments:

Calypso Facto said...

Because it "boggles the mind what we might be able to learn" from Ashton Kutcher's tweets? Think I've got a new answer when Alpha asks "So what would you cut from the Federal budget?"!!!


wv: eedygein. The wife of Ed the serial killer.

Akiva said...

It boggles the mind that government departments feel the need to intrude into new areas, often trampling on private business, sometimes charities, and foundations to keep themselves relevant and therefore fully funded.

In this case Archive.Org has been doing the same thing for the past 10 years. Just to compare, they had the Library of Congress's announced capacity in 2004. Today they have 300 times that (3 Petabytes).

They are a CHARITY, funded by individual contributors and charitable foundations. They are NOT government funded.

So we have not your tax dollars at work but your tax dollars wasted duplicating a private project.

Jennifer said...

My works are in the Library of Congress. I'm like, totally published.

sykes.1 said...

Doesn't this strike anyone as scary? Every comment anyone has ever posted is in the hands of the government in a highly searchable form. Actually, it is accessible to anyone. Do the Madison cops monitor you? Or your department chair?

I suppose there is no reasonalbe expectation of privacy here. But none the less, the potential for a truly Orwellian surveillance system is scary. Especially, since it is inevitable that the data base will be used to punish people.

Scott said...

From a rights standpoint, I have absolutely no problem with institutions obsessively collecting blog posts and tweets and whatever digital detritus they want.

From a cultural standpoint, it underlines (with a big black marker) the massive narcissism of our society. We think that anything anyone says is valueable. Even the smallest mind fart is treasured. We are all important. Everybody is a star. Future generations will be in slack-jawed fascination with us. No Tweet Left Behind.

Our society does not trust itself enough to discern what is valuable and what isn't. Think about it.

I wish Christopher Lasch was still alive. We need a public intellectual of his stature to document America's continuing fascination with navel gazing.

bagoh20 said...

When the meteor hits in 2012 it will all be gone. Our future, our past, us. The cosmological eraser is on it way; the giant pencil is being turned around as we speak. Some alien race who has been recording our transmissions will watch "I love Lucy" and such and wonder what it would be like to live among us. It was interesting to be here, but twitter was for twits.

john said...

This should do it.
©

bagoh20 said...

Will there be huge anti-technology and connectivity fad in the future? I feel the need. We are way over connected and over documented already, and it's getting worse fast. There has to be some breaking point. It may even be violent and revolutionary. Are there any Scifi novels about that modern enough to incorporate our recent narcissism of blogs, youtube, and twitter?

William said...

In the future everyoe will be immortal for fifteen minutes.

Scott said...

@bagoh20: A number of movies touch on the topic of narcissism, but not too many are internet-specific. I loved Artificial Intelligence.

Can anyone think of other movies that touch on the internet or narcissism?

@William: "Give me immortality or give me death!" :)

Chris said...

It's a wonderful preservation of a rich mine of historical and sociological information and creepy government intrusion into the private domain.

Scott said...

It's a candy mint! It's a breath mint!

El Pollo Real said...

Random thoughts 1-4:

(1) Yes, talk about lowering the bar for being part of the Library of Congress.

(2) What exactly is the storage medium we're talking about here?

(3) I hope they paid Twitter handsomely because (a) Twitter needs cash and (b) if the sum were disclosed it could enable a backlash along the lines Calypso suggested at 8:42.

(4) I can't help but think that there isn't some sinister-wing intent here. Why doesn't Google just up and buy Twitter? They could rename themselves Google Wireless and Broadband- a bit awkward sounding but I like the acronym. :)

edutcher said...

Calypso has a point about all the drivel in one place. Yes, I know every pulp paperback ever written ("One man was too many, but a thousand weren't enough") is in there, but now you're recording stream of consciousness or, in most cases, unconsciousness.

sykes.1 said...

Doesn't this strike anyone as scary? Every comment anyone has ever posted is in the hands of the government in a highly searchable form. Actually, it is accessible to anyone.

The Zero isn't waiting that long, probably. SEIU has goons somewhere in the bowels of HHS with keystroke software catching it as it's written, no doubt. All the easier to declare martial law just before the elections (kidding, but expect Alpha in 3, 2, 1...).

WV "dormatsu" A henpecked Japanese husband.

bagoh20 said...

We all better just shut up or we'll be sorry. BTW, I love my government, whoever they are or will be. I am on their side all the way.

El Pollo Real said...

Can anyone think of other movies that touch on the internet or narcissism?

I'm reminded of certain scenes in Wim Wenders's Until the End of the World where people wear those things on their heads and get addicted to their own thoughts and dreams.

Theo Boehm said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
El Pollo Real said...

Yet another reason to lament that Michael Faraday ever drew breath.

Watch it Theo-Faraday is/was a hero to some, even though he didn't appear on no stamp! (well in this country at least :)

wv "cante" A song for you know who!

Joe M. said...

Twitter is public. It has always been public. That a library can collect public information and preserve it for future generations is nothing new.

Still creepy to think about, though. One more reason not to use twitter/ to not post personal information online.

El Pollo Real said...

One more reason not to use twitter/ to not post personal information online.

Agree and disagree. Twitter is a bit like the proverbial canary in the coal mine. The folks in charge appear to hate coal mines. It's worth keeping an eye on what becomes of Twitter for that reason alone.

OTOH, I always notice when anti-twitter sentiment appears in blog comments.

c3 said...

Sometime off in the not to distant future the Library of Congress will answer the answer:
42

c3 said...

Or maybe

42 LOL!

Jennifer said...

Doesn't this strike anyone as scary? Every comment anyone has ever posted is in the hands of the government in a highly searchable form.

I get what you're saying, but it's not like they can't just search Twitter for tweets already.

c3 said...

Whoops
will answer the answer

Should read announce the answer