Twitter No Longer So Ephemeral

Two notable announcements concerning the flood of 140 character messages found on Twitter.

The Library of Congress has been granted access to Twitter’s archive of public tweets.  As the company says, there are some conditions:

“It should be noted that there are some specifics regarding this arrangement. Only after a six-month delay can the Tweets will be used [sic] for internal library use, for non-commercial research, public display by the library itself, and preservation.”

The Library notes that this is not its first foray into digital preservation, having worked on archiving internet content since 2000.  They currently have 167 terabytes of web information.  But since Cisco has estimated current internet traffic to be at least 160 terabytes per second, the Library has its work cut out for it.

On a related note, the Twitter blog post about the Library of Congress arrangement notes that Google has a new real-time search function – Google Replay.  This service will roll out over the next couple of days, and expand eventually back to the start of the service in 2006.  Replay will allow you to take a look at tweets (and possibly other status updates like Google’s Buzz at a later point) on a specific topic and specific date.  This should be a boon for all those researchers looking to do work related to how new social media are being used.  Political science researchers, for example, will be able to take a look at the use of Twitter (or not) connected to various political protests.  You can check out Google Replay before it goes wide.  It’s just a couple of months of tweets on “Obama,” but a good peek at what this service might do for searching through those tweets.


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