Twitter and the Library of Congress

In the spring of 2010, the Library of Congress declared (via a message on Twitter) that they intended to collect a preserve every tweet sent out. Yes, yours and mine. Everyone’s.

We didn’t hear much about this after that but a couple of months ago it was confirmed that yes, this is happening. That moronic, ill-phrased message with its typos that your intern sent out has been recorded by the Library of Congress.

There are some people who seem to think that Twitter is almost like those instant messenger things that people used to use years ago – that messages just disappeared into the ether after a few minutes. They aren’t and they don’t.

What this means to you is that you’d better make sure that the person who is sending out messages on behalf of your company is doing so properly. That demands a level of intelligence. If one of your employees are sending out your Twitter messages then it should probably be a well-paid one in a relatively important position in your company. Of course, he or she won’t be able to perform their other duties as well as they did but that’s the price you have to pay.

Oh and by the way, this is retrospective. They are collecting tweets since Twitter first began.

How will the tweets be used? Basically for research purposes. Twitter clarifies in a blog post that “it should be noted that there are some specifics regarding this arrangement. Only after a six-month delay can the Tweets be used for internal library use, for non-commercial research, public display by the library itself, and preservation. The folks at Twitter are happy to donate the Library access and fully support the idea. They look forward to becoming apart of history.”

Hmm. Public display. Research.  How long before that becomes teaching material? “Here’s how not to use Twitter”.

I believe that Twitter is about six years old now. It’s no longer some ‘fad’, used by brainless celebrities. For several years it’s been used – most effectively – by Dell, Ford Motor Company, eBay, Amazon,  Disney, the New York Times … even presidents and the British monarchy. If you still see Twitter as ‘something new and modern for teenagers and young people’ think again.

And if you think you can trust this to an intern or junior member of staff, think again :)


Posted by Team Las Olas in : Rants,


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