[Air-L] Academic replacements for TwapperKeeper.com?

Devin Gaffney itsme at devingaffney.com
Wed Feb 23 11:29:40 PST 2011

Hey All,

I run 140kit.com, and I can tell you right now that the Twitter TOS is somewhat ambiguous when it comes to handing data out like this when its done in a research setting - from my own (optimistic) reading, I think there is still space for a purely research based environment - they want to avoid having their business in data analysis usurped by other marketers, I think, so we don't really need to worry too much. I have pinged Twitter about Twapper Keeper folding the other day, and am waiting for a reply. At any rate, I'm certainly willing to go to the mat to keep some form of data collection around for researchers. 

We are a much smaller operation than Twapper Keeper. We have only cataloged about 100 million tweets over about 70 million users, and as of yet, have not put any money in for upgrading our tiny server set. The seed money was put in by my college last year, and that dries up in May, at which point I will pay out of pocket until a better solution presents itself. 

So, to answer Cornelius' points:

- We do hashtag/search processes
- We export data in csv and sql, as from my own experience sql is much easier to deal with when repurposing data like this
- We have a whole range of analytical processes built on top of the system as well, with a way for other programmers to plugin new analytics, which is great
- We are certainly not stable financially or uptime-wise. We are reliable when the word is in our system - the collection servers are run at Berkman and rarely falter.
- Long-term, I would like to work on this more, but we need to figure out how to build an environment where this is acceptable conduct for Twitter and someone can afford to work on it full-time. I would love to do that, but I don't know how, short of getting back in an academic setting and getting free reign, which just isn't hugely likely.

Feel free to ask me any questions about this service or about the current situation - I'm hitting up Twitter folk all day to get answers and advice.

On Feb 23, 2011, at 11:18 AM, Matt Munley wrote:

> Cornelius,
> How well would something like 140kit (http://140kit.com/) meet your needs?
> Here's their description from their site:
> "We use our cluster of machines to collect your data using our access to the
> Twitter API. If you search for tweets with a term, we employ the streaming
> API to collect data in a distributed fashion. When your data collection is
> finished, depending on your access level, we conduct an array of analytics
> on the data set, ranging from the ordinary dump of data in MySQL/CSV to
> Network graph visualizations, gender breakdowns, and more."
> It seems to hit most of your bullet points; though I can't speak to their
> stability or long-term viability.
> Matt
> On Wed, Feb 23, 2011 at 12:04 PM, Cornelius Puschmann <
> cornelius.puschmann at uni-duesseldorf.de> wrote:
>> *Note:* I've also blogged this (in case links in the post don't work) and
>> will list all alternatives suggested to me in that blog post:
>> http://blog.ynada.com/616
>> Dear all,
>> A few days ago, the people behind Twitter archival site
>> TwapperKeeper.com<http://twapperkeeper.com/> announced
>> that they will be discontinuing the export feature of the service on March
>> 20, 2011<
>> http://twapperkeeper.wordpress.com/2011/02/22/removal-of-export-and-download-api-capabilities/
>>> .
>> Apparently the feature is in violation of Twitter’s terms of service, at
>> least in the form it’s currently implemented in TwapperKeeper.
>> Unfortunately this cuts off a number of academics who are investigating
>> communication on Twitter for scientific purposes from a convenient data
>> source. While it’s fairly easy to get data directly via the Twitter
>> API<http://apiwiki.twitter.com/> (which
>> is what TwapperKeeper was doing), I know many people who want to
>> concentrate
>> on the data itself, rather than running their own servers to scrape Twitter
>> on a regular basis. What’s more is that Twitter’s attitude is worrisome:
>> many of us have tried to get an exemption from API rate limits in the past,
>> to no avail. Twitter doesn’t give researchers privileged access to their
>> data, and now they’re crippling TwapperKeeper on top of that.
>> Bottom line: what will we use after March 20? Ideally, a replacement would
>> provide the following:
>>  - the hashtag/search query functionality of TwapperKeeper,
>>  - the export functionality of TwapperKeeper,
>>  - exclusive use for academic purposes (on the grounds that this might
>>  keep Twitter from shutting it down),
>>  - stability and reliability,
>>  - long-term viability.
>> The last point is important, because I don’t think it will be difficult to
>> set up a server somewhere to suit the needs of a few people, but a
>> larger-scale solution seems more sensible in the long run. Maybe
>> JISC<http://www.jisc.ac.uk/> can
>> do something like that, based
>> onyourTwapperKeeper<http://code.google.com/p/yourtwapperkeeper/>
>> (which they supported<
>> http://twapperkeeper.wordpress.com/2010/04/16/jisc-funded-developments-to-twapper-keeper/
>>> )?
>> Or one of the big institutes (OII, Berkman)? Either way it would be nice to
>> find an alternative that doesn’t give those of us with devs and major IT
>> support behind them a huge edge over the rest…
>> Thanks in advance for your comments,
>> Cornelius
>> ---
>> Dr. Cornelius Puschmann
>> Department of English Language and Linguistics
>> Heinrich-Heine-University Düsseldorf, Germany
>> Junior Researchers Group "Science and the Internet"
>> http://nfgwin.uni-duesseldorf.de
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