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GCN : January 2013
GCN JANUARY 2013 • GCN.COM 5 Agencies are making good use of social media, gleaning posts for early signs of earthquakes, disease outbreaks, crimi- nal activity and other events. But tracking what's trending is one thing. Being able to search through terabytes of stored posts for deeper information and context is another, as the Library of Congress is discovering with its Twitter Archive. LOC struck a deal with Twitter in April 2010 to build an archive of tweets, start- ing with public posts from 2006 to April 2010, and all subsequent ones. What started with a collection of 20 billion tweets has grown to about 170 billion, with about 500 million more coming in each day, LOC reported this month. That's a big amount, but one LOC deems important at a time when social media has become a major channel of communication, "supplementing and in some cases supplanting letters, journals, serial publications and other sources routinely collected by research libraries," says LOC, which has been archiving public documents of all kinds since 1800. Archiving and preserving outlets such as Twitter, LOC said, will give future researchers "access to a fuller picture of today's cultural norms, dialogue, trends and events to inform scholarship, the legislative process, new works of authorship, education and other pur- poses." The problem is how to separate the right tweets from the chaff --- and Twitter has a lot of chaff. LOC has received about 400 requests from global researchers asking to pe- ruse the archive on a myriad of topics. But it has yet to approve any requests because of the problems of searching the ever-expanding archive. The library has explored distributed and parallel computing solutions, some of which would require an investment in perhaps thousands of servers, LOC said. And commercial services provid- ing tweet indexes operate on a small scale that won't allow for the deep dive researchers require. Also LOC is talking to social me- dia aggregation company Gnip about developing an archive interface and working with congressional researchers and scholars on a basic level of access they could use until archival search improves. "It is clear that technology to allow for scholarship access to large data sets is not nearly as advanced as the technology for creating and distributing that data," LOC said. "Even the private sector has not yet implemented cost- effective commercial solutions because of the complexity." • NEWS ANALYSIS LOC seeks search solution to mine expanding public tweets archive [BrieFing] [datapoint] State governments are "an enor- mous data generation engine," where data on property, licenses, taxes, unemployment, education, and health benefits resides in varying, often discrete, databases, according to the latest annual sur- vey by the National Association of State Chief Information O cers. The big data challenge is col- lecting, integrating and leverag- ing that data from the islands of information where it resides and applying the tools and analytics to coax actionable information from it, NASCIO said. State CIOs are experienc- ing a delicate balancing act of maintaining older, but necessary legacy technology while embracing emerging innovative technologies such as big data, cloud computing, mobile devices, social media and public safety broadband. Although some state CIOs do not yet see it as an imperative, big data is gain- ing traction. However, implemen- tation may not be within reach because of a lack of personnel training or database management tools. --- Rutrell Yasin Where does big data fit in state CIOs' strategic planning? Not in the plan at all, no plans to add it to the plan In discussion to add big data to the plan In the plan indirectly Addressed directly in the plan A central part of the plan Don't know/does not apply Measuring reporting, not results Source: NASCIO, TechAmerica, Grant Thornton 23% 36% 17% 10% 6%