Get ready for fame, tweeters of the world: the Library of Congress is archiving for posterity every public tweet made since the service went live back in 2006. Every. Single. Tweet, reports Ars Technica.
The LOC announced the news, appropriately enough, on Twitter. Twitter isn’t just about being pretentious and notifying the world about the contents of your lunch (though it’s about those things too).
Matt Raymond, one the Library’s official bloggers, notes that “important tweets in the past few years include the first-ever tweet from Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey, President Obama’s tweet about winning the 2008 election, and a set of two tweets from a photojournalist who was arrested in Egypt and then freed because of a series of events set into motion by his use of Twitter.”
There’s been a turn toward historicism in academic circles over the last few decades, a turn that emphasizes not just official histories and novels but the diaries of women who never wrote for publication, or the oral histories of soldiers from the Civil War, or the letters written by a sawmill owner. The idea is to better understand the context of a time and place, to understand the way that all kinds of people thought and lived, and to get away from an older scholarship that privileged the productions of (usually) elite males.
The LoC’s Twitter archive will provide a similar service, offering a social history of hipsters, geeks, nerds, and whatever Ashton Kutcher is. As Twitter continues its march into the mainstream, the service really will offer a real-time, unvarnished look at what’s on people’s minds.
Photo by commons.wikimedia.org.