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Written by Chris Carroll, Terp Magazine

After a police officer killed an unarmed black teen in Ferguson, Mo., in August 2014, observers and participants in the resulting tumult sent more than 13 million related tweets within just two weeks.

The unfiltered reactions of anger, sadness and determination—along with the shared logistical details of mounting a nationwide grassroots campaign against police violence—formed a trove of raw material for scholars and historians.

Making sure that material isn’t buried beneath the digital sands of time is the aim of “Documenting the Now,” a UMD-affiliated research project supported by a two-year, $517,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

The project, a collaboration between the Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities (MITH), Washington University in St. Louis and the University of California, Riverside, aims to develop software called “DocNow” to archive Twitter data from historically significant events, with Ferguson the initial target.

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