A local library made news in 2010, announcing that it would archive every tweet ever posted. With Twitter generating 500 million tweets a day, can we really be surprised that it’s proving to be a challenge?
Of course, that doesn’t mean there aren’t a host of smaller services we can build around social media. By way of example, here are three social media services we offer the Mason community. One’s pretty simple while the other two require a bit more infrastructure.
Mason Tweets (http://tweet.gmu.edu)
This curated feed from “official” and “near-official” twitter accounts from across the university offers a quick and easy way to take the “Mason Nation” pulse.
To produce this service, we created a MasonTweeter account on Twitter to follow Mason-related feeds. The web presence is simply a page that embeds the MasonTweeter timeline.
An archive of every tweet from Mason’s President, Ángel Cabrera.
This service stems from a discussion I had with Dr. Cabrera a few years ago. At that time, Twitter did not offer users an archive of their tweets (they do now), so we were looking into how we might save his tweets for future university historians. We settled on a method that offers a searchable database of tweets stored locally in a MySQL database (suitable for future archiving). Thanks to Andrew M. Whalen for the code that helped build this LAMP-based archiving service.
Social Feed Manager (SFM) (https://gwu-libraries.github.io/sfm-ui/
Just the other day, I set up our most ambitious social media service yet: Social Feed Manager.
SFM is a Django application developed by George Washington University Libraries to collect social media data from Twitter. It connects to Twitter’s approved API to collect data in bulk and makes it possible for scholars, students, and librarians to identify, select, collect, and preserve Twitter data for research purposes. We’re running SFM in a Docker container (using Docker for Mac) which simplifies installation and abstracts away much of the underlying complexity.
We have added Social Feed Manager to the suite of data services we offer out of the new Digital Scholarship Center we’ve been shaking down in beta since late January.