Spiraling out of Control
Do you remember your first tweet?
Some of you in History and New Media probably do, if you only started tweeting a few weeks ago. However, for those of us who started earlier, it’s tougher. I remember when I started tweeting from my @sportzak account (March 2009) just not what I tweeted. Did I write something witty? Something historical? Something insightful? Something bland like ‘hey this is my first tweet’?
Since I’ve been reading about internet archiving this week, I thought it would be fun to find out if my first tweet is archived.
First I tried the Way Back Machine. But no dice. As Jinfang Niu points out in her overview of web archiving not all websites can be crawled, either due to the crawler limitations (dynamic web content, like streaming media, can’t be archived easily) or the sites themselves block such actions via robot exclusions. Twitter, with log-ins, passwords and privacy concerns, is not cached. (Plus everyone’s “twitter.com” page looks completely different since it shows their customized feed, so I don’t even know how it’d be possible to archive the main site.)
Fortunately, it turns out that Twitter has been archiving my tweets this whole time! I found a link showing directions on how to download your twitter archive, and after I downloaded and extracted the zip file, I finally saw my initial tweet:
Wow this thing spirals pretty quickly.
— Zach Klitzman (@sportzak) March 4, 2009
I think this is a perfect first tweet, as it really sums up the internet as a whole, not just twitter. As Abbie Grotke opens her review of the Library of Congress’ web archiving endeavors, the internet “is large and ever-changing and that content is added and removed continually” causing issues with selection, timing, and value when archiving sites. (Think of Niu’s example of archiving p1 and p2-a of a website.) Of course, Internet spiraling can be good: the September 11th digital archive “spiraled” from 28 submissions by January 2002, to 328 by March, 693 by May, 948 by July, and 1,624 by August thanks to the interconnectivity of the internet.
What were your first Tweets like? Post them below in the comments!
In honor of my first tweet, let’s end this post with some John Coltrane: