Twitter CEO Dick Costolo once made the promise that before the year ends, users will be offered the option to download an archive of all their tweets from their accounts. A lot of users have long awaited the arrival of this feature to the popular microblogging site, and just as soon as some users discovered that the option was already available, tails have started wagging.
The new feature, presumably being rolled out in waves, appears on the Settings page of the Twitter web client which states that the user can request a file containing his or her information starting with the first tweet. The process works in a similar manner as Facebook’s archive system. After requesting for your Twitter archive, a link will be emailed to you once it is ready to be downloaded. It will come in a zip file that once extracted, will reveal your archive contained in HTML format. All tweets are reportedly displayed in a page layout similar to Twitter’s own website and are sorted in a calendar format where tweets can be browsed according to the user’s monthly activity. The archive also contains a CSV format showing your tweets in tabular data and JSON files complete with each tweet’s metadata.
Of course, once it is made available to the bazillion Twitter users, they would start asking, “What’s in it for me?” What’s a basic Twitter user to do with a grab of all his or her data and information? TechCrunch suggests that aside from giving you a decent back-up that generally shows how much time you’ve spent on Twitter, there are other cool things you can do with your archived tweets.
You may be familiar with services that allow you to visualize or analyze tweets and make sense of the tweets from people your respective networks. These tools add value in the sense that the results or findings you get from them will enable you to remember what you’ve tweeted or talked about over the years without having to read through tweets one by one. In a way, they do a good job in summarizing the story of your life.
Sadly, tweets that weren’t cached by search engines can’t be searched for, especially when they’re older (or tweeted a long time ago). By viewing your archive, you could simply search for these old tweets using words or phrases that you remember. What was your initial tweet the moment you found out that Michael Jackson died? How did you react about Obama’s reelection? You can find the answers to all of these questions and more by just loading your archive onto your browser.
Imagine having to show your kids their first baby picture that you uploaded on Twitter, say, 15 or 20 years from now. With a downloaded archive kept safely within the confines of your computer’s hard drive or your cloud-based file service account, you can share such information with the people close to your heart. Who would’ve thought that Twitter can act as a digital scrapbook that can chronicle the biggest moments of your life and can allow you to look back and revel in personal milestones?
Without a doubt, the new archive option that Twitter now offers its users can provide a lot of benefits and opportunities to millions of people around the world. Congrats to Twitter for following Facebook and Google’s lead of democratizing data for a more “open” internet!