The Library of Congress announced Wednesday it will archive
all public content on Twitter. In an unrelated development, Google is also introducing
a feature making tweets much easier to search and sift through. Both
announcements have triggered a
firestorm of observations about privacy, history, and the digital age.
Even the Library of Congress blogger Matt Raymond
commenting on the announcement, says: "I'm no Ph.D., but it boggles my
mind to think what we might be able to learn about ourselves and the
world around us from this wealth of data." He's not the only one whose
mind is boggled:
- 'God, the Future Is Going to Think We Are Such Imbeciles,' remarks New York Magazine's Chris Rovzar, prompting hilarity in the comments section.
- Dude ... Meta! The "move [is] clearly intended to out-postmodern MoMA's acquisition of the @ symbol," writes Vanity Fair's Juli Weiner.
Speaking of postmodern, she points out that there's already discussion
about the move "on Twitter right now, the entirety of which will be
preserved for posterity, forever. Go, join the chat, sacrifice 140
characters of your choice to the gods of History."
- Who Said They Could Do This? The Big Money's Heidi Moore
isn't happy, saying there's a problem of not so much "privacy" but
"ownership." Her question: "Who says my tweets belong to Google or the
Library of Congress?" As far as she's concerned
Twitter had a
duty to let its users know—clearly, not in vague terms—that their
ephemeral tweets would become permanent and searchable. That's basic
- Actually, No Different Than What the Internet Already Does, counters Moore's Big Money colleague Chadwick Matlin, explaining why Google is essentially a searchable archive of blogs.
when you write a book--and, come to think of it, you should write a
book!—does it end up in the Library of Congress? Yes. Is it still your
work when it goes in there? Yes. We're not talking about Google (...
LoC "owning" your intellectual property. We're talking about archiving
it. The only reason you can tweet is because Twitter provides you the
platform to do so ... They are still your property, yes, but they are a
part of Twitter's domain. And Twitter has rights to sell its domain
wherever it like. If you don't like it, stop tweeting.
- Actually, It Is: What About Deleted Tweets? Doctoral student Fred Stutzman,
who studies social media, looks at Twitter's terms of service and
thinks those dismissing privacy concerns might want to revisit the
problem. Specifically, there's the matter of what to do with tweets
users currently revisit and, upon consideration, decide to delete. Is
this decision now taken out of their hands?
The way I read
this is that as long as your content is on Twitter, Twitter can do what
they want with it. Fine. But what if you remove your content from
Twitter? Wouldn’t Twitter's licensing of your content to the LoC also
expire? Twitter needs to address exactly how we can pull our content
out of the archive when we want.
- Procrastination 2.0 "Imagine the possibilities," says Glenn Davis
of Geekosystem, "of every tweet being searchable, with no 'Older tweets
are temporarily unavailable' catch. If people think Twitter itself is a productivity killer…"
- Dating the Decline of Civilization "Now," declares The Weekly Standard's Mary Katharine Ham,
"historians will be able to pinpoint the exact second when Western
society succumbed to a sustained assault of abbreviated Kate Gosselin,
Twilight, and Justin Bieber commentary."
- Changing Times Wired's Ryan Singel
adds extra insight to a common observation: "In four years, the service
turned simple, 140-character status updates on what people are doing
into a global publishing phenomenon that tracks and creates the
Zeitgeist ... So be careful out there with your Tweets and Buzzes and
status updates. Your great-great-great grandchildren will have to do
'book' reports on them someday."
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