Vanity Press Plus: The Tweetbook

March 16, 2009

Tweetbook Cover

Well, someone had to do it, and I think I’m the first. I’ve archived my first two years of twittering to a hardback book. (For those of you who don’t get Twitter, and those who are just bored by it’s sudden, seeming ubiquity: move along. Nothing to see here.)

→ The full photoset is here.

I wanted to test Lulu‘s capacity for hardback books, to continue experimenting with the literary cornucopia machine, and to see if you could make a traditional diary/journal in retrospect. And you can, and it’s quite nice (apart from some weird kerning issues). No, most of it doesn’t mean anything, certainly not to anyone else, but it makes physical a very real time and effort.

(It’s a seriously good way of practicing your InDesign scripting skills too, all you book design nerds and Start-with-XMLers.)

Tweetbook Spread 1

When Twitter is inevitably replaced by something else, I don’t want to lose all those incidentals, the casual asides, the remarks and responses. That’s all really. This seems like a nice way to do it, and I’ll probably do it again in a couple of years time.

And yes, I’ll make one from your tweets, if you ask nicely and pay me a lot of money.

Tweetbook Spread 2

Update: Here’s the very hacky, very simple script I used to get all my tweets, as several people have requested. Use at your own risk. There’s almost certainly a better way.

67 Comments

  1. Ooo yes please! I can’t even work out how to archive my tweets from the beginning… *sigh*

    Comment by Lau — March 16, 2009 @ 11:23 am

  2. Gosh, that’s pretty. How many pages did it come to? Might have to pick your brains on InDesign sometime…

    Comment by Tom Taylor — March 16, 2009 @ 12:09 pm

  3. c. 270pp and 4100 Tweets. Enough to warrant it, I feel.

    Comment by James Bridle — March 16, 2009 @ 12:12 pm

  4. I like it! But what happened to the kerning?

    Comment by Britta — March 16, 2009 @ 12:32 pm

  5. Well noticed Britta – something horrible, is the answer. It’s not in the supplied PDF so I’m a bit annoyed about it – as yet not annoyed enough to want to go through Lulu’s return/reprint process.

    I’m guessing it’s some kind of conflict between the embedded font (Dolly) and Lulu’s printing systems… not something I’ve come across before, but fairly easy to fix, I should imagine. This is why we do proofs!

    Comment by James Bridle — March 16, 2009 @ 12:53 pm

  6. Very very cool idea James. Very cool.

    Comment by Anora McGaha — March 16, 2009 @ 1:07 pm

  7. this is brilliant!

    Comment by jerome — March 16, 2009 @ 1:18 pm

  8. Hi – this is amazing. I would love to gift this to someone. Are you joking about doing this for a fee?

    Comment by James Rock — March 16, 2009 @ 1:19 pm

  9. What a brilliant idea! You might well find some of the celebrity and other popular tweeters taking a great deal of interest in your idea, amongst many others! Congratulations on thinking of it!

    Comment by Linnet Woods — March 16, 2009 @ 2:41 pm

  10. I love it. Did you notice changes in the style of your tweets over time? And are these tweets that were backed up already via something like Twitter Tools, or did you have to go back and manually copy out 200 pages of tweets?
    This is the kind of thing the Today programme would go nuts for. They’d be so confused by the whole concept of it that they’d give you ten minutes to talk about it.

    Comment by Rupert — March 16, 2009 @ 3:14 pm

  11. @Rupert (and others): the tweets were backed up by a little script I wrote – unfortunately, the way the Twitter API works, you can only pull down one “page” (20 tweets) at a time, and you can only make 100 API calls an hour, so you’re limited to downloading 2000 tweets per hour (in total, i.e. you can’t pull down different peoples tweets at the same time).

    Comment by James Bridle — March 16, 2009 @ 3:18 pm

  12. That cover art is an inspired choice.

    Comment by Tom — March 16, 2009 @ 3:20 pm

  13. I would imagine all the TinyUrl’s are defunct… do you even remember what you were linking to in most of them? I often forget. Not to mention the links that simply don’t exist anymore. What do we call these fading artifacts? Hyper-decay? Is the material more brittle, or has time sped up? :)

    Adan

    Comment by Adam — March 16, 2009 @ 3:47 pm

  14. @Adam – just checked and the oldest tinyurls in there still work. But you’re right, and I don’t expect them to last forever. Then again, I don’t expect most information in old books to still be useful either…

    Comment by James Bridle — March 16, 2009 @ 3:52 pm

  15. I love it. This is awesome. I love love love it. What was your experience using Lulu? Why Lulu and not Blurb? How many books did you make, and where can I buy a copy? Do you intend on publishing more?

    Again, love it.

    Comment by Cynthia Shannon — March 16, 2009 @ 4:53 pm

  16. We’re on to you Bridle!

    Comment by Sara K. — March 16, 2009 @ 5:27 pm

  17. @James: Any chance you could publish that script you used to pull down your tweets?

    Shane

    Comment by Shane Graber — March 16, 2009 @ 5:39 pm

  18. That cover is *highly* um… indebted to the New York Review of Books Classics series:

    http://www.nybooks.com/nyrb/

    Comment by mike — March 16, 2009 @ 5:41 pm

  19. Argh, they noticed! Hey Sara (and mike) :)

    Yeah, I love the NYRB designs so I nicked your layout. Just one of the many reasons this isn’t going on general release! I could have parodied anything, but I wanted one that said “classics” without being immediately obvious to everyone, so NYRB it was…

    @Cynthia – Lulu’s OK, but it’s very slow to deliver (c. 2 weeks to the UK), and it’s impossible to set up marks and bleeds quite right, so the cover cropping and centering isn’t quite as good as I’d like. Also, the massive kerning issue mentioned above.

    Blurb’s even worse, as you have to use their custom application to design the book, and I’m an InDesign/PDF nerd.

    This is a one-off, and will remain so. It’s not for sale, not least because the NYRB would have design/copyright issues, and I’d look like the world’s biggest narcissist.

    As to making them for other people – I’m open to the idea, but it’s a very time-consuming process. I’d charge a lot for it.

    Comment by James Bridle — March 16, 2009 @ 5:42 pm

  20. @Shane – Done. See update at the bottom of the post. And do let me know if you do something similar…

    Comment by James Bridle — March 16, 2009 @ 5:59 pm

  21. When does this book become available, James? We’d love to review it at The Lulu Book Review (www.lulubookreview.com).

    Comment by Shannon Yarbrough — March 16, 2009 @ 7:50 pm

  22. Wonderful idea. Thanks for sharing the script. A question… How did you adjust the output to remove all the author statements on each line? Did you do it manually? For example, my output looks like this:

    Wondering if there’s a more beautiful song than Nick Cave’s ‘Into my Arms’
    Author: Rob Annable Date: Wed May 07 20:49:59 +0000 2008

    Comment by Rob — March 18, 2009 @ 12:19 am

  23. @Shannon – as stated above, it’s not available. I’m sure there are other books worth reviewing out there…

    @Rob – Basically, I took the output of that script and ran a number of quite complex search and replace operations on it to make the changes I wanted.

    You could just erase line 43 of the script, the one that reads:

    echo ‘<span class=”gettwit_name”>Author: ‘, $twit->user->name, “</span>\n”;

    Comment by James Bridle — March 18, 2009 @ 10:58 am

  24. This is a brilliant idea. I have some old family diaries and love reading them – the loss of ephemeral daily information about life passing, not for me (or even my children) but for grandchildren is one of the things that worry me about the way I use sites like this (I don’t tweet but I do use facebook).

    Do you know if it’s possible to pull information out of facebook in the same way – I’ve looked but can’t see an easy way to do it.

    Comment by Benedict Leigh — March 18, 2009 @ 11:27 am

  25. LOVE IT!!!!!!!!! It is so ingenious (why didn’t anyone think of this sooner?) yet I am crying/laughing at the thought of it.

    Comment by Brie — March 19, 2009 @ 9:56 pm

  26. great idea – can it be commercialised…?

    Comment by John Bridle — March 20, 2009 @ 6:47 pm

  27. Brilliantly done and thanks for the script. I may have to try this with my uninspired tweets…

    Comment by Jason — March 21, 2009 @ 5:05 pm

  28. BTW, reversing the info to chronological must have been quite a chore. Did you have a tweet to your code to do that for you or was that all done by hand?

    Comment by Jason — March 21, 2009 @ 5:07 pm

  29. Is there any way to get a copy of this at all? I am a PhD student and I study conceptual literature among other things. This is an extremely interesting project and I’d like to examine it more closely. There is a whole subculture of people interested in this kind of thing.

    Comment by Jonathan Ball — March 21, 2009 @ 6:39 pm

  30. Wow just wow, must have! This is so genius.

    Did not find it on Lulu though, where can I order it?

    Comment by AA — March 22, 2009 @ 8:56 am

  31. This is terrific. At the risk of sounding technically challenged I have no idea what to do with that script. Could you please document exactly what we do to retrieve our tweets? I’d really love to do this. Great idea. Thanks.

    Comment by lostinspace — March 22, 2009 @ 5:46 pm

  32. You could also use twitterbackup2.jar found here:

    http://johannburkard.de/blog/programming/java/backup-twitter-tweets-with-twitterbackup.html

    It stores your tweets in an xml file which you could then parse to pull the information you need.

    Shane

    Comment by Shane Graber — March 23, 2009 @ 4:46 am

  33. Great Idea!

    Is there any other solution to get my tweets (because I don’t have any idea about APIs and scripts etc)…

    Comment by Dv0rsky — March 23, 2009 @ 9:23 am

  34. A little bird just told me …

    http://www.dear-twiary.com/

    : )

    Comment by reimar — March 23, 2009 @ 6:52 pm

  35. Great idea, great execution. But oh dear, what happened to the type? The kerning is totally fooked up! Broken typeface? Bug in InDesign?

    Comment by schoschie — March 23, 2009 @ 7:08 pm

  36. Yes, and this is what happens if you don’t open your eyes enough <– note to myself. Ignore my previous comment; it’s been answered above.

    Comment by schoschie — March 23, 2009 @ 10:00 pm

  37. "Mi vida en Tweets" … El Libro [ING]…

    Bueno, pues solo esto nos faltaba: que alguien pasara sus "tweets" a un libro, por si a alguien del llamado "social media" (WTF) le interesa son 270pag. con 4100 tweets de Febrero 2007 a Feb. 2008. Enough is enough!!!…

    Trackback by efectotequila.com — March 23, 2009 @ 10:44 pm

  38. Interesting project — sort of the inverse of the Genny Spencer Twitter diary and others like it.

    Comment by A — March 24, 2009 @ 10:29 am

  39. Twitter Books…

    Two more print-web collaborations.
    ……

    Trackback by Robert Sharp — March 24, 2009 @ 11:42 am

  40. wow! wonderful idea.. I think, I’ll make one for myself. :)

    Btw, on the technical side, the script will run into an infinite loop because $startpage is never incremented!

    And you can fetch maximum of 200 tweets with one request using “http://twitter.com/statuses/user_timeline.xml?count=200″. This means you can get a maximum of (200*100=)20000 tweets without exceeding the API limit!

    Comment by vinay — March 24, 2009 @ 2:16 pm

  41. Oops – thanks Vinay. Been fiddling with it too much – corrected.

    You’re right about the count as well. I’ll updated the script to reflect this when I have a mo.

    Comment by James Bridle — March 24, 2009 @ 2:47 pm

  42. I don’t know who you are, but I hate you a little bit.

    Comment by Jerrett — March 25, 2009 @ 3:30 am

  43. “Is there any way to get a copy of this at all? I am a PhD student and I study conceptual literature among other things. This is an extremely interesting project and I’d like to examine it more closely.” — Can you not just look at the guy’s Twitter page and pretend you’re reading a book? The book was created from content copied directly from that account. Christ. Who let YOU into their PhD program?

    Comment by Anonymous — March 25, 2009 @ 4:30 am

  44. Ah bon – les trolls drôles sont arrivés.

    Comment by Rupert — March 25, 2009 @ 5:04 am

  45. Inspired by this post, I wrote an app. to generate a pdf tweetbook at http://tweetbook.in/
    Also, there is an option to get the tweets as an xml file so that you can use it further as needed.

    Comment by Vinay — April 1, 2009 @ 6:16 pm

  46. [...] idea de reunir en un libro todos los tweets enviados en nuestro perfil y formar lo que ahora es My Life in Tweets por James Bridle; esto es una recopilación de todos sus tweets enviados desde hace dos años [...]

    Pingback by My Life in Tweets es el nuevo TwitterBook » MundologĂ­a — April 1, 2009 @ 9:30 pm

  47. [...] My Life in Tweets’ is a nice project by James Bridle (@stml on twitter). He has created a book of his first 2 years worth of tweets, cited as an experiment in using Lulu and to making a retrospective diary/journal. Twitter’s “slightly” self obsessive aspect lends itself nicely to this. [...]

    Pingback by Ship’s Biscuit » My Life in Tweets — April 2, 2009 @ 2:17 pm

  48. “Can you not just look at the guy’s Twitter page and pretend you’re reading a book? The book was created from content copied directly from that account. Christ. Who let YOU into their PhD program?”

    You’re right, I COULD be a lazy asshole! Thanks a lot, asshole!

    Comment by Jonathan Ball — April 3, 2009 @ 7:48 pm

  49. [...] Bridle, editor do blog Book Two, se apegou tanto Ă s suas twittadas que decidiu fazer delas um [...]

    Pingback by Um Twitter, um livro… at Twitter Brasil — April 5, 2009 @ 12:33 pm

  50. Is the book “My life on Tweets” for sale on the Lulu website or is it just a personal project? I’d love to read it.

    Matt

    Comment by Matt — April 5, 2009 @ 4:06 pm

  51. [...] value of print – especially in terms of its staying power. James Bridle of booktwo.org has archived two years of his tweets into a hardcover book. After all, he explains, Twitter will inevitably be replaced by another tool, and he doesn’t [...]

    Pingback by Print is still high-value « Magazines Online — April 6, 2009 @ 12:06 pm

  52. [...] para informar clientes sobre novas fornadas de pĂŁes e guloseimas. O Twitter já rendeu atĂ© um livro (nĂŁo-publicado) cheio de “twittadas” e algumas escolas do Reino Unido estĂŁo pensando [...]

    Pingback by Twouble with Twitters « — April 7, 2009 @ 11:48 am

  53. [...] Twittbook: Livro Com Twittadas [...]

    Pingback by Pauta Livre News Podcast #3 | Pauta Livre News — April 8, 2009 @ 7:44 am

  54. Where did the cover illustration come from? Great project.

    Comment by Austin — April 8, 2009 @ 11:58 pm

  55. @Austin – it’s an old print of a New England whaler, from the Wikimedia Commons.

    Jonathan and Anonymous – play nicely please. But I’m not going to repeat this again: It is NOT for sale.

    Comment by James Bridle — April 9, 2009 @ 1:44 pm

  56. [...] d’abord, un peu d’histoire. Tout a commencĂ© avec l’idĂ©e Ă©trange qu’a eu James Bridle : rĂ©cupĂ©rer une archive contenant tous les twits qu’il avait postĂ© sur Twitter depuis [...]

    Pingback by Anthilemoon » Archive du blog » CrĂ©er un Tweetbook ou un Blogbook — April 10, 2009 @ 3:37 pm

  57. [...] Bridle ha scritto MY LIFE IN TWEETS… due anni di updates della sua vita raccolti in un unico [...]

    Pingback by Enciclopedia in 140 caratteri. Il nuovo standard è deciso da Twitter. | FastForward Blog — April 17, 2009 @ 12:12 pm

  58. [...] os tweets em livro.  E foi exactamente isto que fez James Bridle (@STML), editor do blog Book Two, fez. Segundo o autor, que gosta de experimentar as possibilidades da internet, a ideia era testar [...]

    Pingback by Tweets viram Livro — April 17, 2009 @ 3:12 pm

  59. I love the idea behind this, but never been a codeslinger and my days as an XML slinger are loooooooong past. Wondering how long it will be before someone sets up a site to semi-automate this process, at least enough to turn it into a PDF e-book (which could presumably then be printed through Lulu, Blurb, etc.). I’d pay quite a bit for something like this, though not nearly what I expect it would actually cost James to do it. :)

    Comment by Jesse Wilkins — April 21, 2009 @ 6:46 pm

  60. Great idea, James!

    And what about the results in marketing?

    @laisbueno

    Comment by LaĂ­s Bueno — April 27, 2009 @ 6:22 pm

  61. [...] In March 2009, James Bridle compiled all two years of his tweets into a 270 page hardback book. James thinks he was the first [...]

    Pingback by Tweetbook « Social Archivist — August 21, 2009 @ 7:45 am

  62. [...] very reminiscent of James Bridle’s Tweetbook and a prime example of hacking current technologies to get what doesn’t, but should exist: I [...]

    Pingback by Newspaper » Lone Gunman — October 1, 2009 @ 4:02 pm

  63. [...] Twittter (que não passa de um microblog) já serviu de fonte para vários livros tanto aqui quanto lá fora — sim, você leu direito: livro inteiros só com frases publicadas no [...]

    Pingback by Aprendiz de Escritor » Arquivo do Aprendiz » Blog vira livro que vira filme! — October 9, 2009 @ 1:00 am

  64. [...] @stml: The Mad Genius: Brit James Bridle should be celebrated high-and-low for his brilliant experimentations in the future of publishing, but he seems to fly under the radar of the mainstream. James is behind such initiatives as: Bookkake, Bkkeepr, BookSeer, BookCampLondon, the first Tweet Book. [...]

    Pingback by 15 (More) Twitter Users Shaping the Future of Publishing — October 24, 2009 @ 7:37 pm

  65. [...] of bypassing publishers entirely, thanks to services like Lulu. That’s what prolific Twitter user James Bridle did, creating the first ever “Tweetbook,” aptly titled My Life In Tweets. Not exactly [...]

    Pingback by From blog to book deal. — October 31, 2009 @ 11:38 pm

  66. [...] de twitterisation en un ouvrage qu’il aura finalement lui-mĂŞme autopubliĂ©, sous le titre My life in tweets. Il s’agit par ailleurs d’un volume 1, allant de fĂ©vrier 2007 Ă  2009. La suite [...]

    Pingback by Le roman tirĂ© de Twitter : les tweets de l’internet au papier « Blog sur les fictions Ă©mergentes — February 5, 2010 @ 8:56 pm

  67. [...] tweets becomes more mainstream? Already, there are a couple of projects where individuals such as James Bridle have self-published a compilation of their tweets. While this is still at the individual level and [...]

    Pingback by Is Re-Tweeting a copyright violation? | { enygmatic } — February 24, 2010 @ 5:25 pm

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