It seems like a long time ago that I wrote a post here about how I was going to start using Twitter even though, like many at the time, I didn’t know what I was going to actually use it for. This was back in September of 2008 when I wrote “The Twitter in My Mind,” and while this was only a couple of years ago, in Internet time 2008 seems like a long, long time ago.
While some important uses for Twitter have developed globally—especially around politics and sports—and many cultural institutions and art folks use it in interesting ways, Twitter still seems like an insider’s club. Said another way, if you’re not using Twitter, you probably don’t have a use for it; in fact I think those that don’t use it generally get tired of hearing about it, and all the jargon that goes along with it. After all, who could actually like the word “tweet” or want to work out a suitable past tense for that word.
But after more than two years, I think I’ve finally found a reason for folks interested in art conservation to use Twitter without, well, actually using Twitter. Using the web-based application Paper.li, I’ve created Art Conservation Daily to summarize all the tweets about art conservation from the past 24 hours. This online newspaper is auto-generated from my list of about 150 people that regularly tweet about art conservation.
So you can have a fresh copy of Art Conservation Daily delivered to your virtual doorstep every morning (e-mail inbox) by simply clicking on the “subscribe” button in the upper right. Best of all you never have to so much as sniff a “tweet”. While I don’t understand how the paper chooses the headlines or sections, overall it seems to do a good job of creating a timely and relevant newspaper. Take for example this weekend, when the Egyptian political system began crumbling, and museums became endangered; the best way to get the most current information about this situation was through Twitter. Not surprisingly, the front page of Art Conservation Daily had a story about the situation.
As far as I can tell, there is no other place that you can get a daily summary of art conservation news on this scale. I really only have one market competitor: e-conservation daily, which is similar but its Twitter list is less than ½ the size and the content appears to be geared more generally to the cultural heritage field. There are a few professional associations that operate general news blogs about art conservation (AIC and IIC, for example), and a few other conservators that write about conservation issues on their blogs, but none that give such a clear and timely snapshot of art conservation current events.
Although it seems unlikely that it will be putting the likes of The Art Newspaper or Art Daily out of business any time soon, Art Conservation Daily seems to be growing in popularity. According to the counter at the top of the paper, it has had just under 2,500 viewers and a modest list of subscribers.
Also, there are some interesting features of this application: you can embed it in your own web page using the code at the top of the paper, you can see a streaming list of folks tweeting about art conservation inside the paper, and there’s a built-in archive so you can catch up on past editions. Of course it’s paperless. The drawbacks? There aren’t many; it’s free, easy to use and maintain, but there are ads. But what paper doesn’t have ads? My only complaint is that I don’t get any of the ad revenue.
I’m always looking for interesting folks to add to my list to make the paper better, so if you know of any users that consistently talk about conservation or collections care, please let me know and I’ll add them. Who knows, they might make it in the paper.