From the point of the new social media and digital text this is another example of both have become significant parts of society and social history.
“Now, Twitter messages — from the musings of celebrities to citizens’ cataloging of their daily breakfasts to the pronouncements of politicians — will be archived permanently by the Library of Congress. The Twitter archive of all public tweets, starting from its inception in March 2006, will join such august collections such as letters from the Civil War and famous photographs from Great Depression-era works project.”
Google will add a feature that will allow a person to search the tweets as well as Facebook. As a means of sociological research it will be a valuable tool. No doubt this will also be a valuable tool for marketers, political parties, governments, and a wide variety of special interest groups.
As a rule when something becomes part of the Library of Congress Archives it gets donated. Letters and other documents often enter into a public trust such as this after the person has passed away or at the bequest of an individual or group.
While it is true that the whole internet experience is designed for sharing and communicating of ideas through a variety of media forms, these separate actions by the Library of Congress and Google really didn’t ask permission of all those individuals. Could you imagine a similar announcement being made about our phone conversations. I suppose since some people tweet using their cell phones it isn’t that such a big stretch of the imagination afterall.
Furthermore, we are dealing with an American Governmental institution and an American based company. I don’t think that either the archiving or searching will be restricted to American citizens. In effect, anyone on Twitter will be part of this American data base of digital documents.
I wonder if The Library of Congress will decide that all those Flickr photographs are just as important as Mathew Brady’s work and just as socially significant as all those tweets. Will they announce one day that all those photographs- good and bad- are now permanently part of their collection ? …….. Should you be proud or just a bit worried ?
Remember: All media contain values, beliefs, and ideologies.
All media contain intended and unintended messages.
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