Nate Anderson at Ars is one of many that has this story. Anderson makes the best case for a project about which I am deeply cynical. I don’t entirely disagree with his point about Twitter in many ways being equivalent to a sort of oral history or tradition. He’s not suggesting that the vast majority of it is as important as those rare tweets that are startling and news worthy.
The implication that archiving Twitter will provide future historians with a sort of peak into the online social milieu of years past makes a certain sense. It actually makes more sense than the residual value of those more historically weighty tweets. I would expect archives of blogs and web sites would provide much more detailed and interesting information around events also scooped by a tweet.
I do have to wonder at the priorities, however. Could the money being used for this be better spent on other digital archiving efforts, things like what my fellow volunteers for IASL and I are trying to achieve? It is a bit maddening as the announcement was made, sickeningly enough, on Twitter. Hopefully more details will be forthcoming.