Today, we learned that Twitter made good on its promise to start letting its users download all of their tweets from the beginning of their history with the service. For many geeks, there is excitement about this. It means that Twitter is showing how truly “open” they can be when it comes to your data and information, finally catching up with companies like Facebook and Google, which both allow you to grab all of your information at any time.
But some are confused about what they might do with the data once they have it. As with any data, the why’s and what’s are without boundaries. It’s pretty much infinite what you can do with a bazillion tweets that you own — well some have fewer than others.
The first thing you should do once you get the ability to download your archived tweets is to do so immediately. It won’t take up too much space on your hard drive. If you really care about the time you’ve spent on Twitter, why not back the massive file up on a service like Google Drive, Dropbox or Box? It certainly can’t hurt.
Now that you have the data, what can you do with it? Well, the tools to do cool things with massive amounts of data aren’t readily available to consumers like you, but that’s changing quickly. Services like Gnip, which has firehose access to re-sell to marketers, should absolutely take this opportunity to create consumer-facing services.
What would you do with your tweets? Here are some ideas:
We’re all familiar with the “cloud” presentation of data — seeing what you tweet about the most by surfacing the most popular phrases and words. Yes, it’s all about you, but it’s mighty interesting, since you probably don’t even remember 10 percent of what you’ve tweeted over the years. Certain words and themes could permeate and remind you of past times or how far you’ve come along personally.
A perfect example is that some folks, like myself, used to tweet about how dumb the service itself was. We would ask “What is this for?” over and over. Eventually, some of us answered that question by simply tweeting more. Over the years, the themes that we’ve tweeted about changed based on current events, personal situations, job changes and more.
Imagine if you could structure this data in a way that tells the story of your life. Cool, huh?
Remember that tweet you sent to Kim Kardashian that she retweeted? Me neither. I can’t find it, since it happened a long time ago, can you? There’s no way to find older tweets unless they’ve been cached by search engines. That’s sad.
With this data, you could simply search through it for words and phrases to find the ones that mean the most to you. Remember what you said during various moments, such as Michael Jackson passing away? You could find exactly what you said and see when you said it.
That is powerful, trust me. Services like Timehop are already surfacing things like this and it’s like a stroll down memory lane. Sometimes it’s tough to “watch” ourselves in a previous time, but it’s an important part of self actualization and growth.
One day, your kids, or future kids, might have Twitter accounts of their own. Or they might simply move on to the next big thing of their time. Wouldn’t it be cool to share all of this information that you poured into Twitter with them? Perhaps you could show them how happy you were when you found out that they were to be born. You could show them how happy you were when they were born. You could even show them the photos you took and shared of them when they left the hospital. You get the point.
You could also share this information with friends and family who were never sure why you used a service like Twitter in the first place. By showing them important moments and thoughts in your life, they’ll understand.
Twitter is like a digital scrapbook in that way.
There are more ways to use this information, but we haven’t thought of it yet. That’s the great part. Small services will start cropping up, allowing you to upload your personal tweets and information to give you a better reading of exactly what you want to know.
This is a real opportunity for smart people to create startups around this. The data is being democratized, and I commend Twitter for joining the party. What will we learn from all of our tweets? Time will tell, but that time starts now.
Do you know of services that will let you do cool things with this data? Share them in the comments!
[Photo credit: Flickr]