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This Handsome Four-Volume Book Set Chronicles a Single Second on Twitter

·Tech Columnist
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Twitter is all about economy of language. But at the same time, it’s an absolute firehose-blast of language. Don’t believe me? Then check out Philipp Adrian’s #oneSecond. It collected everything tweeted in a single second and preserved it in context.

The result is four thick books. You could spend hours, in other words, deconstructing that second.

Adrian, a designer in Switzerland, was a graphic design student at HGK Basel when he dreamed up the project, in response to an assignment that involved making a publication for a typography class.

Hitting on the idea of capturing and visualizing what one second’s worth of tweets might look like, in a global perspective, he turned to Datasift to acquire every tweet in the world occurring Nov. 9, 2012, at 14:47:36 GMT.

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These 5,522 bursts, in 42 languages, were arranged in a book, ordered by language. Adrian then culled additional data on his own and created additional books exploring the relevant tweeters’ color-scheme choices, avatar imagery, and profile descriptions.

Via email, Adrian concedes that he “went a little out of bounds” from the original assignment. But I’m glad he did. The school paid the $2,500 or so it cost to print this lovely object, which currently exists in just one copy (owned by the school). Thanks to recent attention — I learned about #oneSecond from the Post-Digital Publishing Archive Tumblr — and “people being interested in the printed version,” he tells me, “I might be able to produce a small edition in the future.”

If that happens, I will tweet about it.

Write to me at rwalkeryn@yahoo.com or find me on Twitter, @notrobwalker. RSS lover? Paste this URL into your reader of choice: https://www.yahoo.com/tech/author/rob-walker/rss.