Last April the Library of Congress announced plans to digitally archive all public tweets from the Twitter information network. Soon all your carefully crafted 140 character messages will have a permanent home in the world’s largest and most prestigious library. Sure this announcement bought the Library of Congress (LOC) some street cred with young people and technophiles but why would the LOC do this?
Time Magazine blogger Graeme McMillan stated the potential importance of creating a “kind of record [that] demonstrates a much more honest idea of what history was actually like for generations to come, much in the same way that pop culture ephemera like magazines, comic books and pop songs have done so in the past.” Researchers could certainly benefit from the data-mining opportunities available within the archive. Soon analyzing Twitter feeds may be the go-to way to gauge real-time responses to current events and breaking news from 2006 to the present.
But there are still some answered questions. As it stands, tweets are automatically archived on all public accounts. What if you don’t want your thoughts on the latest episode of Jersey Shore going down in history? Can you opt out of being part of the Twitter archive? Only time will tell how the LOC and Twitter handle privacy concerns. We’ll continue to follow this story and keep you posted!
Instructional Services Librarian