Researcher and Writer in Washington, DC

Adrienne LaFrance, “Library of Congress has Archive of Tweets,” Washington Post January 4, 2012


The Library of Congress, where I am employed, archives the posts on Twitter. The collection goes all the way back until the birth of Twitter in 2006—some 170 billion tweets. It is an interesting arrangement between the private sector (Twitter) and the government sector (the Library).  Additionally, the two parties have very different expertises. Twitter allows anyone and everyone around the globe to produce messages that are more or less visible. The Library, on the other hand, is a government institution that is devoted to preserving content and making it accessible.  Thus:

“People expect fully indexed — if not online searchable — databases, and that’s very difficult to apply to massive digital databases in real time,” said Deputy Librarian of Congress Robert Dizard Jr. “The technology for archival access has to catch up with the technology that has allowed for content creation and distribution on a massive scale. Twitter is focused on creating and distributing content; that’s the model. Our focus is on collecting that data, archiving it, stabilizing it and providing access; a very different model.”


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