British Library ponders the historical value of Twitter
Saturday 18 September 2010
The chief executive of the British Library yesterday confessed to having asked herself recently: "Should a world-class library preserve Stephen Fry's tweets?"
Dame Lynne Brindley, who was speaking about the future of libraries at The Independent Woodstock Literary Festival, said she has grappling with the question of whether the library should preserve Twitter, Facebook and blog entries in the same way it archives print.
Her question is all the more pressing given that the Library of Congress in America has just announced that it will archive all Twitter material.
"The material the British Library classed as everyday material in the 19th century, trade magazines, fashion magazines and ephemera is now the absolute stuff of research," she said.
"How far should you think about collecting and preserving social media such as Twitter, blogs, and forms we have not yet even discovered? The ephemeral material deemed to be less valuable, material that was part of everyday life, is now extremely vital to the understanding of cultural and social history," she said.
Dame Brindley said while Google was a significant research tool, printed matter remains the most precise research tool. "Google is great but there is no substitute for a library. The print world is far from dead and our print collection grows every year," she said.
Elsewhere at Woodstock, The Independent columnist, Howard Jacobson, whose novel, The Finkler Question, is shortlisted for the Man Booker prize, revealed how a sense of morbidity had fuelled his creative impulse for writing.
"I feel that being morbid is a part of being a novelist. People who feel life is fragile and tenuous, that's what sends people into the writing business. If you don't feel that sense of fragility, they are more like David Beckham, (a person) who just gets on with it," he said.
Jacobson, speaking to The Independent's Matthew Norman, said he felt he inherited his morbidity from his father.
In a talk earlier yesterday, authors Arabella Weir and Kathy Lette, who were in conversation with the comedienne, Ronni Ancona, urged the public not to buy women's magazines that led many young girls to dwell obsessively on food, and the desire to be thinner.
"One of the way we can help girls is to stop buying those magazines. They really do promote this atmosphere that suggests the idea that it doesn't matter that an actress has done six brilliant movies, let's see how she looks in a bikini," said Weir.
Ancona said that in a celebrity-obsessed culture, teenage girls and women were put under immense pressure to be thin, even post pregnancy.
sportLiverpool 5 Norwich City 1: Uruguayan striker has now scored 11 league goals against the club
arts + entsOlivier-nominated actor and singer is set to star in Lloyd Webber's musical about the Profumo affair
filmWith more than 70 per cent of early films lost, archivists are scouring the world to preserve the precious examples that remain
sportThe coach of Chalfont St Peter's under-10s football team was relieved of his duties after he sent an email to parents that said: 'I am only interested in winning'
techA piece of new hi-tech kit aims to get us scribbling again
indybestMake getting out of the wrong side of bed on cold winter mornings a thing of the past with our selection of night-time covers
life + styleClarissa Baldwin is the brains behind the slogan 'A Dog is for Life not just for Christmas'
Arts & Ents blogs
The 50 Best Christmas songs: Bells continue to ring for the Pogues' 'Fairytale of New York'
Shia LaBeouf's Nymphomaniac sex scene removed from YouTube
Eminem, Drake and Jay Z among Spotify's most-streamed artists of 2013
Morgan Freeman portrait: The world's most realistic finger painting?
Nymphomaniac trailer shown to children at screening of Disney film Frozen
- 1 North Korea: Kim Jong Un 'sacks powerful uncle and has his aides executed'
- 2 The hardwired difference between male and female brains could explain why men are 'better at map reading'
- 3 Is this the scariest advert ever? Japanese tyre commercial comes with its own disclaimer and health warning
- 4 A forgotten episode in Russian history leaves links with the Philippines
- 5 ‘Put it in my mouth’: Viewers outraged by apparent reference to oral sex in VIP e-cig advert