What will the world’s archived tweets give to history? Apparently, a whole lot.
Although the library’s acquisition might seem to be a capitulation to frivolity and short attention spans, historians say, it’s actually about how digital archives such as this are shaping the future of history.
“We are in a period of great transition,” Martha Anderson says. “We’re trying to figure out the best way to leave evidence for future generations of scholarship.”
Anderson works for the library’s National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program. She is the person charged with figuring out what to do with the billions of tweets in Twitter’s archives. Some 50 million new tweets are posted every day; all of the public ones will become available to the library after a six-month delay from their posting, to better delineate between current events and history.