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It Takes 4,500 Pages To Analyze And Archive One Second Of Twitter

How best to physically archive our digital lives seems an insurmountable task, and previous attempts to do so–like this plan to print out Wikipedia as a 1-million-page book–downright quixotic. But Philip Adrian’s #oneSecond benefits from a far more limited scope: printing out every message sent on Twitter at a given moment in time as a four volume box set, and then displaying it as a gallery and exhibition piece.

Adrian chose to archive all the messages sent on Twitter at exactly 2:47 p.m. GMT on November 9, 2012. Surprisingly, there were only 5,522 of them, which was slightly below average for then. (In 2014, that number is somewhere around 7,490 tweets per second.) Once Adrian had aggregated all the tweets, he began categorizing them in a one-off box set.

Each of the four books in the #oneSecond box explores different aspects of the 5,522 tweets, organized according to different parameters. In the first book, every tweet appears, with the size and order of the tweets derived from the number of followers as user had. The second book looks at the dominant color of each user’s account, grouping them into a Pantone-like swatch book, and organizing them by time zone. The third book shows how each user describes himself on his or her profile, ordered by Klout score. The final book contains every user avatar who sent a tweet in that second, ordered by the number of historical tweets made.

By limiting himself to printing out just a single second in the social network’s history, Adrian has been able to examine and categorize the essence of Twitter, without having to undertake the insane task of trying to somehow physically archive the whole thing. You can read more about the #oneSecond project here.

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