Google and Library of Congress archive tweets

By Hibah Yousuf, staff reporter


NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- What was the Twitterverse's reaction to the Lehman Brothers collapse? President Obama's election? Now you won't have to wonder.

Every single public tweet, dating back to the very first missive posted on March 21, 2006, will now be housed in the government's Library of Congress. Plus, Google is making the Twitter archive searchable.

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Google's "replay" feature that searches the Twitter archive shows a spike in tweets about the "Apple iPad" on April 3, when the product went on sale.

The Library of Congress -- which boasts millions of books, recordings, photographs, maps and manuscripts in its collections -- announced on Wednesday (via Twitter) that is has acquired all public tweets in the Twitter archive.

"Expect to see an emphasis on the scholarly and research implications of the acquisition. I'm no Ph.D., but it boggles my mind to think what we might be able to learn about ourselves and the world around us from this wealth of data," wrote a Library of Congress representative in a Facebook note. (The federal institution's Web site was experiencing disruptions).

It seems search giant Google (GOOG, Fortune 500) had the same idea, and it announced plans on Wednesday to give users access to Twitter's entire archive, allowing people to "zoom to any point in time and 'replay' what people were saying publicly about a topic on Twitter."

"Tweets and other short-form updates create a history of commentary that can provide valuable insights into what's happened and how people have reacted," said Dylan Casey, Google's product manager for real-time search, in a blog post. "We want to give you a way to search across this information and make it useful."

Users will be able to access the Twitter archive by selecting the "Updates" option on Google's search page. The first page will show the most recent tweets about the search query, as it does now.

The new feature adds a timeline at the top of the results page that shows the relative volume of tweets about that topic, and then allows users to choose a time period -- a year, month, day, hour, or even minute -- from which to read public tweets.

For example, though the Apple's iPad has been a hot Twitter topic since its announcement, Google's timeline of archived tweets about the iPad shows a significant spike on April 3, when the much-anticipated product went on sale in stores.

Google said the replay feature is rolling out and will be available globally in English within the next couple of days. However, initially users will only be able to search as far back as February 11, 2010, the search giant said.

Last December, Google began to revamp its search engine to incorporate real-time search results from Twitter and has since integrated content from Facebook, News Corp.'s (NWS, Fortune 500) MySpace, and Google's own social networking platform, Buzz.

The Library of Congress, the operator of the National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program, has been collecting digital information since Web sites were used in the 2000 congressional and presidential elections. To top of page

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