Tuesday, May 4, 2010
Archiving the thoughts of the Twitter generation
You've probably heard about Twitter.com turning over its entire archive of tweets to the Library of Congress. 50 million tweets a day-- that's a lot of people talking about what they had for breakfast and how much they love Justin Bieber, right? Well, it's true that there's a lot of banality in most of those 140-character missives (there certainly aren't many of my tweets I think are worth anything to posterity), but taken collectively, this archive could be of great use to sociologists and future historians. Twitter messages are sent almost at the speed of thought, before the passage of time and reflection colors the writer's impressions. A scholar could study these tweets and take the pulse of society at any given moment. What are people really thinking? What is important to them? (Justin Bieber, if the trending topics are any guide).
Yeah, I'm a little skeptical, but it should be very interesting to find out where all of this leads. Is it worth doing? Here's the Library of Congress's take. Also check out what The New York Times has to say. (I found out about the article from @librarycongress on Twitter, naturally enough).