AAHM 2013: The Twitter Version

Doctors and lab equipment The American Association for the History of Medicine met for its 2013 annual meeting back in May at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia (fittingly, just across the street from the Centers for Disease Control). As I mentioned near the end of the conference, I planned to gather all I could of the #aahm2013 conversation to display as an archive of sorts. Here, after some delay, are the tweets I was able to archive using Martin Hawksey’s TAGS tool.

I’ve divided the 718 or so tweets as chronologically as possible into separate pages to ease loading times (trust me, you don’t want to try loading them all at once), but some pages will still take a little while to load.

You can also explore the archive using some of the tools Martin Hawksey provides, including a searchable list and an interesting interactive visualization, or get the unadorned data itself.

Process & Tools

I use ThinkUp for my personal twitter archive, but it doesn’t allow archiving hashtags yet and I suspected it would take quite a bit of work find a solution. After a bit of research, though, I found that the process of archiving tweets wasn’t nearly as complicated as I’d thought it would be, thanks to Martin Hawksey’s invaluable Twitter Archiving Google Spreadsheet (TAGS).

In the past, you could use tools like TwapperKeeper to archive hashtag streams. But many of them went away in 2011 and I hadn’t found a useful alternative before coming across Hawksey’s TAGS tool via ProfHacker. Following the instructions on the website and the Settings page of the Google Spreadsheet made setting up the program pretty easy, and once authenticated through Twitter it did a lovely job of aggregating all of the #aahm2013 tweets in a big, data-juicy spreadsheet.

From there I assumed I’d have to do some creative regex work to manually mark up all of the tweets for posting. This really didn’t appeal to me because of the time it would take, and the fact that I’d probably lose a lot of the connections (@replies and such) that would make the whole thing worthwhile in the first place. Fortunately, WordPress and oEmbed were a few steps ahead of me, and it turns out WordPress auto-embeds tweets into posts the same way it does YouTube videos and other media. All I had to do was copy the status_url column from the Archive spreadsheet and paste each URL on its own line in a WordPress post and the embedding magic took it from there.

This is perhaps not the most graceful or future-proof method there is, but it works for my current needs. I also have the Archive spreadsheet saved as a CSV file, so if I have time (or if anything crashes) in the future I can find a better way to do it. Please share in the comments if you have any suggestions for how this might be improved.

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