I’m not a big fan of #newtwitter, partly because I don’t like client-side-scripting-heavy content delivery interfaces with hashbang URLs, and partly because the redesign still fails to address a long-standing problem with archiving.
Old tweets are still not organized in any kind of list or dated format; there aren’t even next/previous buttons on individual tweets. As a result, Twitter entries tend to fade into forgotten unsearchability after a few days, weeks, or months — depending on the user’s post frequency. Previous promises to offer native archiving have fallen by the wayside, and the Google Realtime deal expired in July 2011, transforming into open hostility between Twitter and Google. Nor have we heard much about the Library of Congress Twitter archive project since it was announced.
Had I known my tweets would continue to be so ephemeral years later, I would have implemented a third-party backup solution much earlier. As it is, years of my Twitter use are in limbo and for now effectively wasted. That said, I’m thankful for an XML file provided to me by Russell from an archiving script, containing my tweets up till 14 Feb 2009 — back when it was easier to crawl Twitter for full posting histories. From that I can glean my first tweet in 2006, and use one of the features I do like about #newtwitter, easy tweet embedding:
Im in ur twitter txtng ur fons.
— brownpau (@brownpau) October 8, 2006
Despite my protestations regarding archival impernanence, I know there are people who’ve switched to Twitter as a feed reader replacement, so in the fashion of @kottke and @gawker I shall indulge these “tweedreader” types by auto-feeding RSS from How Now Brownpau through Twitterfeed to @hnbp. (I’ll also be using @hnbp to follow preferred RSS-auto-fed Twitter streams to test viability as a feed reader versus my current RSS-reading web app, Google Reader.)
Through all this, I’ll be tweeting as usual at @brownpau but always with the full knowledge that all things there are tenuous at best, and what I wish to preserve should go to my site rather than be lost to an eternal scrollback mist.
Update: I canceled the @hnbp account because it was additional maintenance that seemed at best vestigial.