Monday, May 3, 2010

For The Record

The US Library of Congress recently announced an agreement with Twitter to create a digital archive of the several billion tweets that have been published on the site since it started life in 2006. The thinking is that this will allow future generations to look back and see what mattered to us, much in the same way as we’ve looked back on diaries, letters, journals and photos in the past.

Sounds praiseworthy and engaging (for example the first tweet ever, or President Obama’s tweet after winning the election), except I wonder how much meaning it will capture.

Twitter is the Participation Economy on steroids – it’s viral, instant, reflective and interactive. It involves you in the moment. To see the moment, you have to participate yourself – post your own tweets, respond to your friends’, see what aplusk (Ashton Kutcher – the most followed Tweeter on the planet) is saying.

Trawling through old tweets will be interesting and insightful, but the digital archive will not be alive. Like diaries, journals and old media it’s one-way traffic, with nobody to tweet back to. Creating authentic connections will always involve a conversation.