Emerging Tech

What do people do with their Twitter archives? So far not much

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Twitter is working on a way to give tweeters access to their entire archive, leading us to wonder why anyone would want that in the first place. The company hasn't given much detail on what this future tool will look like. But it will involve what sounds like a slightly arduous exporting process. "We’re working on a tool to let users export all of their tweets," CEO Dick Costolo told The New York Times's Jenna Wortham. "You’ll be able to download a file of them." Right now, Twitter has an API that lets you download any user's tweets. But the company limits access to the most recent 3,200 tweets while all the old ones stay on their servers. That's enough to capture, say, my personal account, but not The Atlantic Wire's. There are already some outside tools that will store your Twitter activity in a database, like BackUpMyTweets or ThinkUp, but the process can be cumbersome and you have to start downloading before you hit that 3,200 tweet limit if you want a complete record of your account. And why would you want that? Some argue the point on principle. That's what Buzzfeed's Matt Buchanan means when he calls this idea "reclaiming our tweets." You crafted all of those nuggets of info and wit, you ought to be able to keep them somewhere. It's a persuasive argument, on simple fairness terms. But is there any utility beyond that? Not really.
 
Since the notion of downloading your tweets is not new (though downloading all 3,200+ will be), there have already been people who have tried making projects out of their own Twitter archives. We took a look around and saw what people have come up with. 
 
Some people want a "virtual diary." Unlike Facebook, which has forced us to recreate our past, the current Twitter model erases our childhoods. PCWorld imagines what it would be like to take a stroll down our Twitter memory lane. Computerworld made it sound less narcissistic and more cathartic. "So the idea of a person being able to see perhaps tens of thousands of his thoughts over time, all in one place, is pretty compelling. For some people it would work out to be like a virtual diary and news chronicle all in one," writes Christina DesMarais.

Read the full story at The Atlantic Wire.

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// April 22