All tweets to become enshrined in history

One of our awesome clients, Alison McQuade from Global Giving, tipped me off about an exciting development last week. The Library of Congress has just acquired the entire Twitter archive!

It's been interesting to see people's mixed reactions to the news. Lots of people are excited, I think because it makes Twitter feel more like an official communication medium. Others are nervous, like one of my friends, who responded to my enthusiastic retweet by saying she was one of those who "liked having [her] tweets expire." And you have to admit, depending on how and what you tweet, that's a huge amount of personal data that's about to be curated and enshrined in history.

Well, maybe not "enshrined," exactly. As a reality check, Twitter gets 50 million tweets a day, including a lot of spam, so this collection is unlikely to be kept in a nicely-bound set of red leather volumes. But the Library's ability to curate the collection, culling the best and most important messages sent on Twitter — including such gems as various presidential candidates' announcements, the conversations surrounding the election protests in Iran, live tweets from major events — will only add to our cultural knowledge and history. Think of it like a huge time capsule. (For those of you who have locked your accounts, don't worry; the Library is only archiving public tweets.)

And lest you think this is the first time the Library started archiving digital info, think again. According to their website:

  • The Library of Congress holds more than 167 terabytes of web-based information, including legal blogs, websites of candidates for national office, and websites of Members of Congress.
  • The Library of Congress also operates 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.

What will your tweets say about you decades from now? How about your nonprofit's tweets?