Nate Anderson at Ars spoke with Martha Anderson, the director of the National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program at the Library. She explains that the move to archive Twitter’s public timeline was initiated by Twitter which makes a lot more sense out of the idea. She expresses more enthusiasm for the project than I would have inferred from it being pushed by the social message service.
I can see her point about capturing a change in communications as it happens. I will be curious to see if Twitter and social messaging as a whole remain an abiding change like print, radio and television. I wonder if it is too early to make this call but given the storage capacity mentioned in the article, the cost of finding out is minimal. I hope the other costs associated are minimal, there is good reasons to think so. I am glad that the archive will be using existing capacity, no doubt a big reason why the Library agreed in the first place.
Nate paints some interesting scenarios, too, to help explain the project. I guess he has a point about the archive as a supplemental resource. It is time coded and increasingly will be geocoded making it easier to correlate to more in-depth materials. As such, I think he may be right about it giving a social color to events of the day that may be otherwise lacking in the digital record.
I would suggest they look at the Internet Archive to help with the short link issue. Think about it: even expanding a short link and capturing the canonical ULR now could lead to a broken link years from now or worse a site that no longer matches the message from which it was linked. Converting short links through their expanded form and then to a pointer into a snapshot in the Wayback Machine makes great sense to better solve both those problems.