Re-designing the archive

Designing a book made of tweets is nowhere as easy as I thought it would be. It is not only copy-pasting sentences from a word processor into InDesign, adding page numbers, and sending the file to print. First, it took me countless hours to learn to work with Adobe's publishing and typesetting software: InDesign. And just as many hours to figure out how I would want my book to look and feel like.

The conceptual line

When you download any archive from any social media platform you usually receive two things. A CVS (comma-separated values, basically a worksheet) file, and a bunch of HTML files. The worksheet allows you to make sense of your data. Specifically to the Twitter archive, the CSV file you receive contains the whole of your tweets. As well as the number of likes, retweets and some codes for each tweet (which I still haven't made out the meaning of). The HTML files contain code that the browser will display in a clear and understandable way (even if you're not connected to the internet, yay!). What if you see on the webpage is exactly what you ask those services (Google, Facebook, Twitter) to provide you when requesting your data. There are words, pictures, videos, and every information you could ever imagine about yourself. What is at the back of this nicely displayed archive is code. Rivers of code tightly crammed together to save megabytes. In programming, this process of removing unnecessary or redundant data without affecting how the resource is processed by the browser is called minification. Bit by bit, blocks of code are fetched by the HTML. After being formatted and transmitted to your machine, the requested Web page displays the information in your browser.

What the design of every page in Three Years is doing is simulating how this archive exists in its original form. That is why, when you read through the book you see large blocks of text. Sentences one next to the other. No paragraphs and no end of line breaks. I wanted the words to flow onto the page like the code making up the archive flows and reaches your browser.

In designing Three Years, I took inspiration from philosophical concepts of information, new methods of making art, and visual cues surrounding my life. I would not say that I have now become some sort of publishing or graphic designer. But I have indeed taught myself invaluable skills in a new creative field.


Below are some of the pictures of the finished design for the cover and the inside of Three Years, as well as some of the initial designs (printed in a variety of formats).

Very first print from inkjet printer (cover)

Very first print from inkjet printer (inside)

Original version of the cover design

Receiving the first copy home from Lulu.com

Final version of the book (inside)

Final version of the book (cover)