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OPLIN 4cast #524: A new kind of archive

Posted in 4cast

If there was any doubt left that social media has become hugely important, President-elect Trump’s frequent use of Twitter has erased it. But Trump will not be the first President to communicate profusely through social media; that distinction belongs to Barack Obama, who took office shortly after social media took off. Typically, when a President leaves office, a special presidential library is set up to archive the wealth of documents associated with that administration. But what do you do if so much communication was conducted on social media? You create a special social media archive.

  • Obama’s social archive is available for your perusal (Engadget | Steve Dent)  “To record all that for posterity, the White House collaborated with ArchiveSocial on the White House Social Media Archive. It’s a searchable database of everything Obama and his administration posted on Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Instagram and Pinterest over two terms and eight years. It’s hard to believe now, but Obama’s @POTUS handle (and @FLOTUS and @VP) was only created recently in May, 2015. Prior to that, Obama had his own @BarackObama account run by staff, with his own personal tweets signed ‘-bo.’”
  • @POTUS tweets headed to Obama social media archive (Politico | Alex Byers)  As part of the presidential transition — the first to occur since the White House became active on social media — President-elect Donald Trump will obtain access to White House accounts on Facebook, Twitter and other platforms on Inauguration Day. The accounts will retain their followings — the @POTUS Twitter handle has more than 11 million followers — but will start with no content on the timelines, the White House previously said.”
  • Here’s what the White House will do with everything Obama tweeted (BuzzFeed | Alex Kantrowitz)  Until now, it was possible to scrape Twitter to get some of this data, but a comprehensive collection of the White House’s social data wasn’t easily accessible. This new effort it should make it easier to analyze the president’s social presence. The MIT Media Lab analysis, for instance, shows that President Obama was tweeting more about gun control and less about foreign policy and national security than other election-engaged Twitter users.”
  • Obama was too good at social media (The Atlantic | Ian Bogost)  As Obama leaves office, the digital tools he quietly celebrated have also hollowed out American life. Surveillance capitalism has made data extraction, aggregation, resale, and speculation the hidden engine of wealth and progress (for those few fortunate enough to pursue rather than to be pursued by it). The ability to create and widely disseminate information as credible and accurate, no matter its relationship to reality. The obsession with immediacy and attention over longevity and conviction. The consolidation of media and information, particularly local media, in the hands of a few large companies with limited commitment to civic good. While the first social media presidency was busy tweeting and Snapchatting, supposedly for public engagement, it did precious little to address the impacts of these and other effects of technology on the American public as matters of public policy.”

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