Last weekend’s Archiving Social Media workshop, sponsored by the University of Mary Washington and George Mason‘s Center for History and New Media, focused on the problems and opportunities social media such as Facebook, Twitter, and others pose for archivists, historians, and anyone interested in studying contemporary life. (See also Travis Kaya’s writeup for Wired Campus, or the Twapper Keeper record of the event, or Mark Sample’s blog post as the event was wrapping up.)
Many of us may not (currently) need to think about the longterm scholarly implications of social media. Instead, we might find ourselves plagued by a simpler problem: Where’s that tweet I posted six months ago? Or that picture of my kid that I accidentally deleted from my phone before syncing? Or the livetweeting/rubberneck tweeting from that conference I attended a couple of months back. Anyone who uses social media extensively will recognize the utility of a personal archive.
Released just this week, Tweet Library is an iPad app that makes backing up your Twitter account painless and automatic, and offers some nice tools for organizing the information culled therein. It offers the functionality of a relatively mild-mannered Twitter client: you can read and compose tweets and direct messages, view pictures inline, and open up an in-app browser window. It’s not going to replace FlipBoard as an iPad Twitter reading experience, but it certainly gets the job done.
The power of Tweet Library stems, as you might expect from its name, from the fact that it automatically backs up all the tweets you author, anything you mark as a favorite, and anything you rewet. It also allows you to curate groups of related tweets, called “Collections,” by tapping a button and copying them to the left menu. You can also set up filters for all manner of things: it comes with filters for Pictures and Check-Ins (for users of FourSquare or Gowalla), but you can also search by hashtags, individuals, and more. Another key feature is that you can mail your archive (or parts of it) to yourself as plaintext, publish collections to TweetLibrary.com, or sync a CSV file of the archive back to iTunes, where you can then manipulate it as you will. Here’s what the interface looks like (click for larger size):
Tweet Library has helped my sanity a little already, in that it has helped me reconstruct the context of certain conversations and pictures–not to mention it has helped me find stuff I thought was long since gone. A couple of caveats: The app is iPad-only, and it is $9.99.
Do you have a preferred social-media backup plan? Let us know in comments!
[Image by Flickr user austinevan / Creative Commons licensed]