A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Evanescence of a Social Media Revolution: A Year Later, 10% of Data, Images are Missing

 As someone whose discipline is history, I have naturally wondered about how the history of the past year will be written. At first glance the vast library of YouTube videos, live tweets as events transpired, cell-phone photos of events from hundred of sources, etc. would seem to mean the revolutions would have been well documented.

But endurance of these media may be an issue. Here's an important article I think: "Losing My Revolution: A year after the Egyptian Revolution, 10% of the social media documentation is gone." Using several aggregation sites, Storify, etc., a test study showed that up to 10% of the content, especially photos and videos, is no longer available. And that's after only a year.

This raises some interesting questions for digital archivists. I commended it to historians, techie geeks of various stripes, and anyone with an interest in social media.


Dan said...

Realistically, that we have metrics for the quantity of data available is in itself impressive. That social media - equivalent to town square gossip not more than a handful of years ago - is considered a data source in need of preservation is a powerful statement. At that, a loss of an esoteric '10%' should be couched against the overwhelming increase in available data and the near-complete lack of analysis on those data (especially beyond mere 'presence').
The source you site seems more a case of selective information than a particularly thorough study. While a headline such as '10%' might seem interesting, a better gauge might consider the net gain in new voices previously unconsidered by or inaccessible to the greater historiographic community.

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