Document Type

Article

Publication Date

Winter 12-10-2014

Publication Title

The American Archivist

ISSN

0360-9081

Volume

77

Issue

2

First Page

510

Last Page

533

Abstract

In 2011, Hosni Mubarak abdicated his position of president-for-life after peaceful protests across Egypt. Demonstrators in these protests used social media platforms like Twitter to communicate directly with a global audience, but tweets are ephemeral and there are no standards or best practices for their collection and preservation. Using the revolution in Egypt as a case study, this paper serves as a guide to collection developers who are interested in collecting subject-centered collections of tweets. We will discuss how to collect tweets using Twitter's application programming interface (API) as well as collection development issues related to Twitter's role in the Egyptian revolution. These issues include determining the scope of the collection, quantitative and qualitative collection methods, separating signal from noise, and navigating vernacular and formal languages. We will consider the Twitter platform from an archival perspective and discuss best practice in archiving a collection of tweets. To present the kinds of materials that a subject-centered collection of tweets might include, we will conclude with a brief examination of tweets collected during the eighteen-day revolution in Egypt.