How to Review your Twitter Year in 10 Steps

For those of us who forget what happened twelve minutes ago never mind twelve months, trying to sit back and reflect on the year just gone is incredibly difficult to do without a little help.

But for those of us with a personal Twitter account your timeline should be a reasonable means of seeing what you were doing, thinking, watching, taking the piss out of and moaning about throughout any given period of time. Or in my case, the year 2013. But sitting back to do just this on a quiet New Years Eve afternoon I soon discovered this wasn’t quite as easy as it sounds.

First of all I went lo-fi. A simple bit of scrolling down the list of tweets from my profile page. Easy, or so I thought. Now I’m not the most profligate Tweeter but even with a reasonably manageable Twitter habit I soon found that scrolling – and scrolling – and scrolling – and scrolling (etc) is about as much fun as an hour of daytime TV. But going through all that scrollbar pain to only get as far back as March 2013?  Perhaps it was my puerile commentary on the Eurovision Song Contest (May 2013) that had caused Twitter to say ‘enough of this shite’ and burst into tears, but a display limit of 3200 tweets was probably the more likely reason for the dreaded ‘Back to top’ message and my year apparently beginning in Spring.

So. Third party apps. Mmmm. I checked a few out but can’t say any of them quite did what I wanted, so sorry API developers looking for a plug, there’s nothing to see here. Move on. So how about Twitter itself? Is there a way of quickly and simply sifting through all of 2013’s outpourings without ending up with a burnt out scroll wheel and a bad case of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

Well, yes there is. But neither Twitter nor the various nerd blogs do a great job of explaining how to do it unless you’re a nerd yourself. So assuming you aren’t a nerd and might actually want to see your fabulously witty asides on Richard and Adam (‘who?’) from this year’s #BTG (‘oh yeah – the singing brothers!’) here’s a slightly simpler guide to accessing your entire archive right from your very first ‘Hello Twitter!’ to your latest rant on the new year’s honours list. And BTW, this is assuming you’re on a PC or laptop. If you can do the same thing on a smartphone – good luck.

1) Log into your account on and click the Cog thing and then ‘Settings’. Yes, this is for non-nerds. You’ve been warned.


2) Right at the bottom of your Settings screen is an option to create a Twitter archive. Simply click the ‘Send Email’ button (yes I know my screenshot says ‘Re-send’. Don’t ask) and the Twitter elves will get to work collecting your entire micro-blogging output from your very first loss of Twitter virginity.


3) Apologies. Twitter doesn’t actually have elves, but if it did they would send you an email with a blue ‘Go Now’ button which will take you to this:


4) So after heeding the warning that your downloaded archive may contain ‘sensitive content’ which I think translates as meaning ‘total shite that will ruin your professional reputation forever’ you press the Download button and save the file containing your Twitter archive to your hard drive. So far, fairly straightforward. But here’s where non-nerds might get a bit confused. Zip files. Yep, them.

5) Your Twitter archive is now saved to your hard drive as a whacking great but highly compressed Zip file that looks a bit like this:

ScreenShot6Yes I know, it looks more like a folder than a file but see that zip thing? That’s Microsoft showing they have a (sort of) sense of humour. Your next step is to (ahem) Unzip. In other words you need to ‘extract’ the contents of your Zip file so you can actually do stuff with the files and folders within.

8) Right-click on this icon and choose the ‘extract all’ option. I would include a screenshot but that might be getting a bit patronising by now, so just take my word for it. Choose where you want to create your extracted folder (again, ‘Desktop’ is as good a place as any) and away you go.


6) Now there’s two ways of seeing your archived Twitter genius. You could simply double-click the ‘tweets.csv’ file (highlighted) and open a rather huge spreadsheet that looks something like this:


Yep, it’s a bit underwhelming. Lots of weird numbers only understood by people who not only love Star Trek but have probably gone to the trouble of learning Klingon. And not at all interactive, which is especially thin gruel for those whose Twitter experience is mainly about replying to the Tweets of others. To whom or what were you typing ‘OMFG!!’ Excel won’t tell you to be honest.

7) Or, there’s the ‘index.html’ file (also highlighted). 

9) And this is where the real stuff happens. Your web browser should show you something like this:


10) And that’s about it really. The cool thing about seeing your Tweets this way is being able to see your output by month and year. You can even type ‘Twat’ into the search box to track down every time you’ve said rude things about Piers Morgan.

Have fun.

The Archers, Twitter, Trending and Sex: Part 1

A few thoughts on The Archers Omnibus Tweetalong. 

Jolene on the M27

The Archers Logo
From BBC Radio

A woman called Jolene was getting a call about a bloke called Sid, who’d just had a heart attack in New Zealand. And then there was a man and a woman talking for quite a long time about their dairy herd. And then this Sid, who was apparently Jolene’s husband, was no longer Jolene’s husband because he was dead and there was wailing involving both Jolene and her daughter, who was called Fallon.

It was the summer of 2010 and I was driving home from a long working trip up north. My huge supply of podcasts had run out and the in-car entertainment was down to Radio 4 or BBC 5 Live blathering on interminably about the World Cup. I scanned to Radio 4.

So with an hour and a half’s driving still to go, I not only discovered The Archers but had, by sheer coincidence, landed right on top of one of those tumultuous happenings which happen only rarely in The Archers but define the show’s story arcs for aeons to come. That’s it. Jolene Perks appeared to me on the M27 and life was never quite the same again. And thanks to the omnibus podcast, a flash drive and many more very long car journeys, I was hooked.

Coming Out of the Shadows

It’s not that I particularly need to be part of a peer group or share my hobbies with others, but this felt a bit different. Not one single person I knew even in passing appeared to have ever tuned in. I seemed to be completely the wrong demographic. I imagined The Archers being followed by farmers getting all hot and bothered by the only broadcast drama with it’s own agricultural  advisor. I imagined pink-cord wearing Telegraph readers tuning in with a cup of Earl Grey, and tweed skirted ladies bustling home from the  village coffee morning to catch the latest gossip from Ambridge. I was alone. My relationship with The Archers was at first secretive and self-conscious. An almost shameful fetish carried out in the privacy of my car, like dogging without the bodily fluids or nettles.

But then came Twitter. And my discovery of a hashtag that has changed my Sunday morning routine forever. I fire up the laptop, give my non-Archers followers a five minute warning (“Going to talk utter bollocks for the next 70 minutes so please block. Won’t be offended”) and set up a browser tab to show nothing but tweets marked #TheArchers. The hideous accordion version of Barwick Green recorded especially for the omnibus by The Yetties and sounding every bit the aural equivalent of fingernails down a blackboard is the not too heavy price to be paid for an hour of ten minutes of daftness shared with freaks, crazies, eccentrics, odd bods and of course the inhabitants of Ambridge.

Meet the Archers Tweetalongers

So who are these strange folk, the Archers Tweetalongers? If the profiles I occasionally peruse are anything to go by, we are definitely not the Telegraph reading, coffee morning attending stereotypes of my fetid imagination. None are, to my knowledge, farmers.

We spend our Sunday mornings offering blow by blow analyses of the comings and goings within a fictional village. Most of us appear to be reasonably minded professional types who can spell. We often use words that are quite long. We seem, for the most part and as far as one can tell, to do responsible stuff in the real world. We’d never normally say boo to a goose in either real life or the twittersphere. But come 10am on a Sunday, the gloves come off.  Suddenly The Archers omnibus makes acceptable what would normally be the lowest denominator of the troll. Tweets are famously limited to 140 characters but statements such as ‘twat’ ‘bell end’ ‘total bitch’ or ‘bastard’ often don’t trouble the word limit. The level of commentary does of course improve and includes much that is as witty and urbane as the Horobins and Grundys are not.

But one indisputable Tweetalong theme is abuse. No resident of Ambridge is safe from the torrent of vicious insult unleashed by every Tweetalonger, revealing if nothing else a deep vein of unresolved anger bubbling deep and hot within the British middle-class and brought to cataclysmic eruption every time Pip opens her gob, or Tom mentions the organic ready meals so often wished by so many to be inserted hard and as far as possible up his anus.

And let’s hold that thought for now, for there’s Part 2 to, er, come. ‘Sex and The Archers fan’.  Can’t wait, can you?