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.


Richard Henry said...

Will this include all abusive tweets like those of Australia’s Gruen Transfer’s Wil Anderson and all the other racist and climate change quips that Twitter is now renowned for? Incidentally, fair amount of recent tweets about Space Monkey, the Leo Burnett, World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and Ben Lee video being the exact replica of a 2007-2008 storyboard. Surely it did not take Burnett’s that long to find the right song to go with such a great original visual concept?

Peter Baruffati said...

I think time would need to expand faster than the Universe for anyone to have enough spare to trawl through old Tweets. I couldn’t agree more about it being one-way traffic. I suspect it is also a dead end.