Archiving Your Birth and Breastfeeding Tweets: Tweetdoc.org

by Jeanette McCulloch

in How-To's

Do you host a Twitter chat and would like to document the conversation for posterity?

Hosting a birth or breastfeeding conference and want to keep a record of the hashtag stream?

Or maybe you’ve just launched your latest research or book and want to analyze the tweets.

Twitter is fleeting, but if you act fast, there’s a way to keep a visual record of your tweets for your digital scrapbook.

Tweetdoc.org has an interface designed to create a PDF of up to 500 tweets.  Here’s how to use it:

1) Act fast.  Twitter’s new(ish) rules means that tweets are only available for a short window (4 days, give or take, depending on the Twitter traffic).  Best practice is create your TweetDoc immediately after the event, but no later than 3-4 days later or risk not capturing your tweets.

2) Search your hashtag.  On the home page of tweetdoc.org, enter hashtag you want to record.

3) Enter your event details.  After you hit the “Create TweetDoc” button, you’ll be at the enter event details screen.  Enter the description of your event here.  All fields are required.

4) Choose your date range.  Be prepared to experiment here – casting a broader net usually works better.  You might want to jot down your copy from step 3 in case you need to “do over” with a new date range.  Remember that TweetDoc only captures up to 500 tweets, so if you are recording a conference with high volume, you may need to generate a document for each day.  Martin Rue, the creator of TweetDoc, says that the dates are based on UTC, the time zone used by Twitter. (That’s Universal Time – also known as Greenwich Mean Time, for those of us who went to elementary school, ahem, a long time ago.)

This is a long way of saying that the time is off by somewhere between five to ten hours (depending on if you live closer to NYC or to Alaska) which can throw off the dates you choose as your parameters.

5) Make it pretty.  Choose the settings for the header and background of your final document.  The Twitter option looks the most like, well, Twitter.

6) Make it easy to read for your readers.  The “show newest tweets first” option gives the tweets in chronological order, which is usually easiest to read for those who didn’t make the event.  Be sure to change the default number of tweets from 100 to 500;  in most cases, you’ll need all the tweets you can get!

7) Hit “create tweetdoc” and check back on the home page for your doc.  Click on it to see if you captured the right tweets.  Usually, it takes a little experimenting to get the date range right to capture what you really want.  It usually takes a minute or two for your TweetDoc to appear in the list – be patient and hit refresh.

8) Tweak as needed.  If you didn’t capture the tweets you had hoped, go back and fiddle with the date range.  Bigger usually helps.

9) Share your doc! Your doc is now a PDF with a link you can share on any social media platform you’d like.  The final version includes a summary of the chat description and participants:

And a visual of each tweet:

Do you have favorite tools for managing Twitter chats and events?  Please share!

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