Stuff that occurs to me

All of my 'how to' posts are tagged here. The most popular posts are about blocking and private accounts on Twitter, also the science communication jobs list. None of the science or medical information I might post to this blog should be taken as medical advice (I'm not medically trained).

Think of this blog as a sort of nursery for my half-baked ideas hence 'stuff that occurs to me'.

Contact: @JoBrodie Email: jo DOT brodie AT gmail DOT com

Science in London: The 2017 scientific society talks in London blog post

Saturday, 5 June 2010

How to find old tweets

Shortened link for this post is http://is.gd/cDtCN
Edit: 8 July 2012
This post is out of date and kept here as an archive. See instead A list of tools for finding or capturing tweets (30 May 2011) - ironically it too is getting out of date ;)




The text below goes into some depth for a handful of tools but the 'list of tools' linked above covers a greater breadth but in less depth.
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UPDATE 7 July 2011: Google Realtime is no longer with us. Initially it seemed to be temporarily offline while under-bonnet tinkering happened and it was assumed it would be hooked up with Google+ however it now seems that Google is no longer accessing Twitter's stream as the deal ended on 2 July 2011. This isn't great.
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Edit: 19 May 2011Happy news, if you like curating hashtags - SearchHash will do what you want. It doesn't give you wee graphs with info on who's tweeted the most as What The Hashtag did but it lets you access (and export) your tweets. Here's @lesteph's blogpost introducing it.

What The Hashtag (taken over by What The Trend) is now providing some sort of coding information for people who know how to do something or other with JSON (evidently not me) and anyone who knows programming and apps and stuff can probably get create their own system. It's the same URL (http://wthashtag.com/) but it's now What the Trend API.

Twapperkeeper does let you archive hashtags, but doesn't let you export them and it also lets you create only two (free) archives, which can be an archive of all your own tweets or someone else's. To maintain 5 archives it's $5 per month, 15 = $10 monthly and 25 archives are $15 monthly. If you're involved in higher education I think you can sort something out as part of JISC funding. @ASegar has written a detailed post explaining how to extract a hashtag transcript from a Twapperkeeper archive.

Edit: 14 April 2011
Google Updates mentioned below is now known as Google Realtime. What the Hashtag is no longer functioning (wail!) and Twapperkeeper permits only two free archives to be created per user. Twitter has changed its Terms of Service making it much harder to archive tweets, let alone find them.

Edit: 6 June 2010
A couple of other thoughts - Favotter (http://en.favotter.net) records all favourited tweets (the ones you star, or other people star) so you can search for your, or someone else's, username there. Note that the service appears to have gone dead as of 8 May 2010 and is no longer collecting tweets. An alternative is Favstar (http://favstar.fm/) which is still going strong, but isn't a free service so limited functionality but pretty good all the same.

Another service that I've yet to investigate fully is the search engine Twoogel (http://twoogel.com/) it uses Google functionality (eg inurl: or site: ) but I've tried it and it's not picking up much individual stuff at the moment (36 tweets of mine, out of about 9,000) but it picked up over 100 tweets from the Science Communication Conference when I searched for it by hashtag #scc2010).

Of course if I'd done better research I'd have saved myself writing this as Loic Le Meur has already written what is probably the definitive post, and it's likelier to attract more comments and new suggestions so recommend visiting it:
http://loiclemeur.com/english/2010/04/how-to-find-old-tweets.html

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In a short while this post will be redundant as Google is unveiling a searchable archive of ALL tweets (scroll down the page to see more and how to use the pilot version) but there are other ways of finding your previous tweets. Not any more it isn't, see bit in red above.
Tools to back up your tweets
I've not included any information on tools that will save your tweets for you (you can use Twapperkeeper for this http://twapperkeeper.com/index.php though it goes only as far as 2009, and there are other tools).

Twitter search

Twitter's own search engine is well known for being a bit useless in finding old tweets - 'Old tweets are temporarily unavailable' being a typical response when looking for something. Edit: Twitter's search has got better (2011) but still goes back only a few days. Services like Chirpstory or Storify can go a bit further back in time than Twitter.

I use FriendFeed to search my previous tweets - they are all there, eg http://twitter.com/JoBrodie/statuses/2236469325 - from June 19 2009, but you can't hack that Twitter URL (ie tweak the numeric part from 2, 236,469,325 to 2,236,469,324 etc) to find older tweets.

This is a real shame - you used to be able to do something similar before they brought in the 'More' button that appears at the bottom of the page. It used to read 'older' and it allowed you to go backwards through pages of tweets, but each page had its own URL (doesn't now) and so you could easily amend the URL to go from page 200 to page 1 very quickly. The new 'More' system just refreshes the page with another 20 previous tweets, but the URL doesn't change, meaning it's much harder to interact with it.

Rolling back the pages of your tweets
You can tweak the 'More' button URL a tiny bit, but it doesn't go all the way back to your Tweet Zero.


First catch your URL
Go to your own Twitter profile, mine's http://twitter.com/JoBrodie and then scroll to the bottom of your page. Hover over 'More' and note the URL that appears in the status bar at the bottom of the window (if you don't have status bar on, make sure it's ticked in the View or View > Toolbar menu).


Unfortunately it doesn't seem to be possible to 'right click, save location' as usual, which would let you copy the URL quickly, so at this point I press the print screen (PrtSc) button and paste the screenshot into Paint (Start > Run > mspaint). This means I don't have to keep hovering over the More button to see the text, the text is now 'trapped' in the resulting screenshot. It also means I have to manually type the URL by hand.

The URL given in my 'More' button reads (shown highlighted by a purple oval below):

http://twitter.com/jobrodie?max_id=15477934370&page=2&twttr=true - typing this into a new browser window will take you to page 2 of my tweets (the content of this page will change because page one of my tweets will always contain whatever are the most recent tweets I posted).

I think you can safely delete the &twttr=true bit, all you really need to change is &page=2 - I managed to go as far back as &page=160 - I've not been able to get it to bring up any older pages (I've tried this on another twitter account too) so http://twitter.com/jobrodie?max_id=15477934370&page=160 is as far back as I can go in time using this method.
However, we've already seen that Twitter still has all the older tweets, but that they're largely inaccessible at the moment... on to FriendFeed.

Importing your tweets into FriendFeed and using their search
I've always used FriendFeed if I ever want to find any of my old tweets (I've found my first tweet http://twitter.com/JoBrodie/statuses/841825864) by using their much more powerful search engine. This does rely on having a FriendFeed account (I recommend this) and also on remembering keywords you've used in your tweets, so that you can use them as search words.

You can search other people's tweets too either by subscribing to their FriendFeed account, if they have one. If they don't have an account, but their Twitter feed isn't locked, then you can still use FriendFeed - you need to create an 'imaginary friend' account for them and import their twitter feed to that. I've previously written a how to blog on this:
Cunning use of FriendFeed - find old tweets, yours or others
http://brodiesnotes.blogspot.com/2009/12/cunning-use-of-friendfeed-find-old.html

Google will soon be archiving all tweets
Sometimes though you might want to find out what has been said on a topic without knowing exactly the words that may have been used. It looks like Google might be on the case with this, as it rolled out (in April, I'm just catching up) a searchable archive of Twitter. At the moment it only goes as far as February 2010 but according to Google's blog their intention is for it to go back to Day One of Twitter, in 2006.


Below are a series of screenshot showing how to access and use it - the fourth screen shows active links for year (2010) and month (February) and I assume these will eventually be populated with links that will let you scroll back to 2006. I think this could be very useful.

1. As an example to show how the pilot system works I've typed a word that was popular on Twitter recently into Google...


2.
The search results, after pressing enter, are shown below... click on 'More', highlighted in the picture below with a purple oval.




3. Clicking on More brings up several options to filter your results, choose Updates...



4. This will now search within Twitter updates... currently the system is set to today's date (June 2010) but you can click on these as links to bring up an option to choose a different period in time.



5. Clicking on 2010 brings up the entire year for 2010 - however at the moment this is only Feb to June because that's all that Google's making available at the moment during the pilot. Clicking on a month, in the pic below I've highlighted February...



6. ...expands the window to include all mentions of your keyword that were tweeted in February.

I recommend having a bit of a play around with it.

Keywords - I've put them here because Blogger refuses to update this post with all the ampersands in the keywords. I can't see what ampersands it's talking about to be honest but I've given up fighting with Blogger's ridiculous formatting demands. One day someone will work out how to make a blogging platform manage text (and no, it's not WordPress either I'm afraid, if anything it's worse).
"how to", "twitter tips", archived tweets, finding old tweets, how to find old tweets, tweet history, twitter archive

3 comments:

  1. Interesting stuff, thanks Jo. Hopefully I'll eventually be able to track down what I tweeted on the night my son was born!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Another useful web app for search twitter timelines is http://snapbird.org/

    Here's the dev's description: http://remysharp.com/2009/09/16/a-better-twitter-search/

    ReplyDelete
  3. Finding old tweets is a few orders of magnitude harder now that Twitter has ended its relationship with Google Realtime. That service let people search back as far as May 2010.

    Topsy is a service that can search further back in time than Twitter itself (Twitter's improved its search function but it still goes back only a matter of days, definitely not months). Also try googling Twitter using site:twitter.com keyword or phrase to see if it comes up.

    Twitter will only let you readily access 3,200 tweets in a series - ie I can go back 3,200 of my own tweets. If someone has tweeted fewer than 3,2k then you can go back to tweet zero by patiently scrolling through. But you might be able to exploit this - if you know of someone who RTed a particular Tweet or replied to it (and they've tweeted fewer than 3.2k) then you could scroll back in theirs, find the reference to Tweet X and click on it... which might bring it up. Eg if I send a reply to someone then it's threaded to their tweet ("in reply to...") and it's possible to can crawl back the chain that way.

    Alternatively, was the tweet you're after favourited? You can find some slightly-further-back-in-time tweets than you might otherwise get using Tweetree (it also threads conversations extremely well). You can now access everyone's favourites on their profile and because people tend to fave considerably fewer tweets than 3,200 it's possible to go back and find earlier favourited tweets. If a tweet was sent 'in reply to' the tweet of interest then you might be able to sneak up on it that way.

    Finally, might someone have embedded it in a blog or Storify or quoted it? I suppose it depends if you want to see the 'native tweet' ie presented on Twitter with its own URL as evidence, or just get hold of a link or other bit of information from the tweet, which could be found from other sources.

    ReplyDelete

Comment policy: I enthusiastically welcome corrections and I entertain polite disagreement ;) Because of the nature of this blog it attracts a LOT - 5 a day at the moment - of spam comments (I write about spam practices,misleading marketing and unevidenced quackery) and so I'm more likely to post a pasted version of your comment, removing any hyperlinks.

Comments written in ALL CAPS LOCK will be deleted and I won't publish any pro-homeopathy comments, that ship has sailed I'm afraid (it's nonsense).