One of the biggest drawbacks to Twitter’s success is that it has become almost impossible to go back and find that brilliant bon mot you vaguely remember coming up with, that one time, about that thing with that guy. When Twitter finally started rolling out the ability to download your own archive, I thought I’d died and gone to heaven. With one exception: with your very next tweet, your archive is now out-of-date, and you are back to trying to manually wrestle with the firehose.
Now it’s finally possible to put all the pieces together at once. Several months ago I was fortunate enough to stumble over the work of one Martin Hawksey (@Hawksey), who took the time to figure out how to keep your Twitter archive fresh by automatically updating it using a combination of Google Spreadsheets, Google Drive, and Google Apps Scripts (and this is where I can’t help but say GREAT GOOGLY MOOGLY! Okay, done now). You can even take it one step further by hosting it on your Google Drive, with the option of keeping it private, or making it publicly viewable for all. For example, here is my Twitter archive, going back to my first tweet in February 2007. It updates every evening, without any work on my part.
This. Is. Awesome!
So how do you get this archival goodness? First, go to your Twitter account settings, scroll to the bottom of the page, and you should find the “Request your archive” button. Once your request is processed, you’ll get a download link emailed to you. Download your zipped archive, unzip it, and upload it to your Google Drive. This is your starting point.
From here, Martin has done all the work for you. His blog post explains how the process works. It’s really straightforward, and you can work straight off his instructions on his Google Spreadsheet template (complete with the Google Apps Scripts he’s already coded into it).
Still confused? No problem. He’s so thorough, he’s created a video that shows you how to set everything up and start using it. I’ve embedded it here so you can see just how easy it is.
I think this mashup of applications and archiving is really exceptional, and I’m incredibly grateful that @Hawksey posted this detailed account of how to make it happen (also, hat tip to my friend Alan Levine — @cogdog — who found it in the first place and helped to spread the word). This is the reason I love my online community that is the Twittersphere. @Hawksey is really good about keeping this worksheet updated but, if you’re anything like me (and frankly, who isn’t?), you get a brainfart and can’t see the next step. Let me know if you have any questions in the comments.
In the meantime, go forth and archive.