As one of the NY Times blogs reports, there are now quite a few Twitter users, and quite a lot of Tweets every day:
It has 106 million registered users who write 55 million posts a day.
Seventy-five percent of that traffic comes from outside Twitter, using third-party applications, like TweetDeck.
The site gets 180 million visits a month.
While one significant implication is, of course, that a lot of people with accounts don’t tweet every day (especially as those people who write dozens or even hundreds of tweets per day clearly make that average number a bit misleading), 55 million tweets a day is still an awful lots of bits of information being shared. Given the sheer size of Twitter’s operation, it’s no surprise that they’re moving on from their first revenue model (selling a license to Microsoft and Google to index tweets) to an advertising model (called promoted tweets) which will see advertising placed in certain twitter search results. Personally, I skim Twitter pretty quickly, so I can’t imagine this advertising strategy will worry me too much – as long as the percentage of advertising remains small, I’d guess most people will barely notice. Perhaps more significantly, Twitter will be launching their own URL-shortening service and it’s unclear how this will change the relationship between Twitter and current popular shorteners like bit.ly whose entire business is, in essence, based on Twitter.
Twitter also announced that the US Library of Congress will include an entire historical copy of all public tweets:
Since Twitter began, billions of tweets have been created. Today, fifty-five million tweets a day are sent to Twitter and that number is climbing sharply. A tiny percentage of accounts are protected but most of these tweets are created with the intent that they will be publicly available. Over the years, tweets have become part of significant global events around the world—from historic elections to devastating disasters.
It is our pleasure to donate access to the entire archive of public Tweets to the Library of Congress for preservation and research. It’s very exciting that tweets are becoming part of history. It should be noted that there are some specifics regarding this arrangement. Only after a six-month delay can the Tweets will be used for internal library use, for non-commercial research, public display by the library itself, and preservation.
At the same time Google, who already pay a license to index all public tweets, announced a far more refined Twitter element of their real-time search tool called Google Replay which is a graphical tool allowing you to easily find the tweets on a specific topic from a specific day. Both of these developments further shift the sense of Twitter as just real-time to a permanent digital archive. Public tweets always were archived, of course, but the relative difficulty in finding them meant most people didn’t treat Twitter as an archive, more as a conversation. These shifts remind us that every tweet is both a moment of dialogue and the creation of digital media that will last, potentially, forever.