A backup of Twitter

Really stunning news that the entire Twitter archive since 2006 is going to be handed over, or I guess duplicated, in the Library of Congress. That gives us a sense of how this body of data can be seen as a mass record of the thoughts of a vast population.

I find it a little odd that quite a lot of the commentary seems to be about the scientific importance of this move, like you can’t just analyze Twitter data directly on the site itself. For example, this comment:

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.

This is from Matt Raymond, who blogs directly for the Library, so I’m sure I’m missing something. Matt goes on to say the following, though, which I think is really the point. This move is about historical preservation, reminiscence, and a shared heritage:

Just a few examples of important tweets in the past few years include the first-ever tweet from Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey (http://twitter.com/jack/status/20), President Obama’s tweet about winning the 2008 election (http://twitter.com/barackobama/status/992176676), 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 (http://twitter.com/jamesbuck/status/786571964) and (http://twitter.com/jamesbuck/status/787167620).

It’s not Twitter’s job to look after our data for the long term. I’m glad they’re handing some of it over to a body who really can handle that responsibility.

For related work (on a much smaller scale) see the Backup Box.

Digital Agency Event

Michael McClary has put together a write-up of a Microsoft event in London that I was lucky enough to participate in a few weeks ago. Focussed on showing off some of the cooler things coming up from us, it showcased to a UK audience first hand a lot of the announcements made at MIX 2010, including stuff about the Windows Phone, as well as giving some of our partners in the UK a place to showcase their work. Michael gives a great overview of everything that was shown on the day. Worth a read.

I felt a little out of place with my stuff about bereavement and heirlooms, but it seemed to go down well. I guess my role in this sort of session is to get the audience thinking about something quite outside of their own space, or the key topics of the day, before they get down to more “serious” business.

The location of the event was stunning, at the top of the CenterPoint tower in the centre of London. Here’s a few shots.

Looking out across the roof of the British Museum (left) and straight down Oxford Street (right):

P1010638 P1010646

The sun starting to set across London. I particularly like the brightly lit greenhouse on a rooftop in the centre of the second shot:



Media Vintage

Some lovely objects with history.

"Media Vintage is a series of interactive electronic textiles that contain memories. Alpha is a suitcase in which you can weave temporary secret messages in Morse code. Bravo is a tapestry that sings a song from long ago when your fingers read the embroidered Braille. Charlie is a trench-coat that reads fabric punchcards and tells you stories from an old man’s life."



Media Vintage — V2_ Institute for the Unstable Media

Boxes of things

I seem to have a strange and potentially unhealthy obsession with boxing up technology. I guess this started with Shoebox a number of years ago (see paper) and has continued in the last year as my wood-veneering skills have grown and I’ve been able to wrap a number of displays in European-Oak-veneered MDF (thanks Mark for getting me going with this).

Maybe that’s why I admire this box so much. Partially it’s the woodwork, but also because it’s a non-digital manifestation of the Backup Box, which backs up your Twitter feeds so you can reminisce about them later.

Christopher Weingarten is a music critic who tweets his 140 character reviews at 1000timesYes. Last year he promised to tweet 1000 reviews. That done, he’s now offering them, “backed up” into this beautiful box, each one hand typed onto library cards. Lovely. (Also available here for a bargain price of $115).