There’s a scene in Robin Hood: Men in Tights when the merry band of men is trapped in a banquet hall. Prince John has just called in reinforcements: a seemingly invincible army of clanking armored men. Robin Hood looks for a moment, and then shoots an arrow at one. They all fall like dominoes.
Yesterday the Library of Congress announced that it intends to archive all public tweets. Alan Silberberg tweeted that live digital information being archived at the Library of Congress “should make people see what a sea change we are living through.” Tom O’Keefe tweeted that the development is “great for psychology, technology, sociology, and history studies.”
They’re both right, of course. This is a watershed moment in the influence of digital media and an acknowledgement that each of us is a mover, shaker, and content creator. Like letters from civil war soldiers in an earlier era, tweets from Sudanese dissidents building support, or tweets from people reacting to breaking news (think election night 2008, for example, or the responses last month to congressional passage of health reform legislation) can offer insights into both history and our psyche long after we’ve moved on to something new.
As the news broke, however, my first thought wasn’t to what this announcement means but to where it came from. Would this have happened now if there hadn’t been a concurrent push for open government and data transparency, or are Gov 2.0 and OpenGov initiatives the dominoes that set this curating push in motion?
Photo by Jo Jakeman (Flickr).