Obama White House social media, Trump campaign receive expansive archives
In one of the weirder political coincidences in recent memory, digital archives for President Barack Obama and President-elect Donald Trump launched within hours of each other on Thursday.The Obama Social Media Archive launched officially by Obama’s administration and developed by ArchiveSocial, serves as the first-ever culling of an administration's full online presence. It contains every post from every social media channel made by everyone within the Obama White House, from the president to the first lady and all the way down to various staffers who posted in one way or another on the White House's behalf.
This fully searchable archive lets users type in all kinds of search terms, then refine results based on poster, social media platform, and other search criteria. (For example, a lot of White House staffers spoke about pizza.) While image-based social media (e.g. Instagram) is also included, search terms do not include terms for visual tags (meaning, if an image doesn't have a descriptive caption, you'll have to find certain images in more granular ways).
While every White House administration is required to hand over its internal documents and communications to the Library of Congress, this publicly uploaded cache of social media data is a first for an American administration.
Affiliated projects are set to launch with designs on doing interesting things with the data (and the White House continues to offer an open call to any developer interested in joining the fun). One of those, which launched simultaneously with the White House's full archive, won't actually kick into gear until May of this year, because it will serve as a real-time reenactment of Obama's Twitter timeline, time-shifted eight years into the future. (Obama's first-ever Tweet was on May 1, 2009.) This Twitter bot, @Relive44, is a creation of famed Twitter bot machinists Courtney Stanton and Darius Kazemi.
520 hours and growing? That's yuge
On the other side of the political spectrum is the simply titled Trump Archive, created and maintained by the Internet Archive. This dump of video mostly contains appearances by the president-elect on news networks throughout his presidential campaign alongside a relevant video of other politicians speaking about Trump's campaign. The archive mostly consists of footage from cable news networks and American network television news programs.
While much of that video archive's content had already been uploaded to archive.org in the past, the Trump Archive stands out with a particular call to action by Managing Editor Nancy Watzman: "Reporters, researchers, Wikipedians, and the general public are invited to quote, compare, and contrast televised statements made by Trump," she writes in the collection's introduction.
"By providing a free and enduring source for TV news broadcasts of Trump’s statements, the Internet Archive hopes to make it more efficient for the media, researchers, and the public to track Trump’s statements while fact-checking and reporting on the new administration," Watzman writes.
The collection currently contains roughly 520 hours of Trump-related content, and Watzman writes that the project is ongoing and will grow over time. The enormous amount of campaign-related Trump footage was certainly remarked on throughout his campaign. Analysts have argued over exactly how much Trump benefited from unprecedented campaign coverage throughout 2015 and 2016, with value figures in the billions being projected.
The Internet Archive will simultaneously host the entirety of the Obama Social Media Archive, as well. That's good news, as the official White House archive site is currently down as of press time.
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