The Atlantic

Can Twitter Fit Inside the Library of Congress?

Six years ago, the world’s biggest library decided to archive every single tweet. Turns out that’s pretty hard to do.
Source: Beth J. Harpaz / AP

In 2010, the Library of Congress and Twitter announced a historic and incongruous partnership: Together, they would archive and preserve every tweet ever posted, creating a massive store of short-form thoughts. It was odd: a 210-year-old institution partnering with a four-year-old startup, cataloging the internet’s ephemeral #brunchtweets. It was also fascinating: equal parts futuristic and anachronistic. I imagined library scribes copying tweets by hand onto vellum or cranking feeds through a printing press. The news actually frightened some folks: Does this mean my future grandkids will read my live-tweets of Parks and Recreation?

Yet, however dubious the task seemed back then, no one doubted the Library of Congress would get the work done. If Twitter could handle a few million tweets a day, surely the largest library in the world could, too.

But as it turns out,

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