Thursday, April 15, 2010

Every Twitter Ever Made Is Now In The Library of Congress

The Library of Congress has announced that they have acquired every Twitter archive, every single Twitter post anyone has made or will make - an announcement they made via Twitter, naturally.

The NYTimes reports:

Academic researchers seem pleased as well. For hundreds of years, they say, the historical record has tended to be somewhat elitist because of its selectivity. In books, magazines and newspapers, they say, it is the prominent and the infamous who are written about most frequently."

Take that, you darn elitist books which apparently only some East coast genius can comprehend.

The Library has been actively gathering an immense amount of digital information in recent years, according to their own blog:

... 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. 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.

We also operate the National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program, 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."

If the idea seems irrational, just consider the most minuscule scraps we already spend countless days and years collecting - time-frozen footprints, shards of pottery, crude marks on cave walls, ancient accounting logs, and practically any bit of human history. Now we're adding a moment-by-moment historical record of just plain folk, along with more notable twitterings such as those which emerged online during the upheaval in Iran during their last so-called "election".

If you're a Tweeter or Twitterer or whatever you chose to identify yourself, and you think "hey, my privacy is being violated", then you're forgetting the basic nature of writing and posting online. You already abdicated your desire for privacy.

Here in the modern age your Tweet of "OMG! I just ate some bacon ice!" will now reside along the writings of Thomas Jefferson or Mark Twain. Forget Andy Warhol's claim that in the future, everyone would be famous for 15 minutes - your fame could last centuries (assuming someone bothers to keep the technological machinery needed to peruse your random commentaries).

All this brings to mind a few lines from the movie "The Incredibles", when the mother tells her son "Everyone is special", and her son replies "Which is another way of saying no one is."

Not much is excluded, really, or ever has been when it comes to historical analysis. Perhaps it's all just taking place faster and faster.

And speaking of that, here's a way for you to view every single painting on display at the Museum of Modern Art ... in two minutes. And it's set to music, and naturally, it's on YouTube.

1 comment:

  1. This was neat. I haven't been to MoMA in ages. Thanks for sharing.