Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Want to download and save every last one of your witty, history-making, memory-storing tweets? So say we all or enough of us, apparently, that CEO Dick Costolo is hassling his engineers to make downloadable tweets a reality by the end of 2012.

Twice already this year, the Twitter chief has promised the ability to store your entire tweet history locally called “tweet curation.” He did it once in July in a New York Times interview, and once in September at the Online News Association conference in San Francisco.

Costolo’s third promise to change all that came during a talk Friday at the University of Michigan, his alma mater. After pointing out the scale of the problem Twitter serves 15,000 tweets per second, on average, which is “really well suited to real-time search” but “horribly suited to archive search,” Costolo continued:
So if you wanted to do a search against our user database … it would slow down the rest of the real-time distribution. So what we’re doing to enable users to download the entire archive history of their tweets is, as you can imagine, creating a different kind of archival system for these tweets. We’re in the process of doing that now.

And by the end of the year I’ve already promised this, so the engineers, when I promised it publicly they’re already mad at me so they can keep being mad at me. By the end of the year you’ll be able to download the archive history of your entire tweets; you know, your entire tweet archive. [Applause]

Now, again, once again, I caveat this with the engineers who are actually doing the work don’t necessarily agree that they’ll be done by the end of the year, but we’ll just keep having that argument and we’ll see where we end up [at] year end.

(You can see the entire video of Costolo’s hour-long talk here, and read the transcript here.)

Costolo’s a fairly cautious leader, so we doubt he would make such a statement on the record if he wasn’t confident the engineers could do it. Perhaps by making transparent an internal Twitter debate over downloadable tweets, he hopes to goad them into finishing the project on time.