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Twitter shut down Emojitracker's access

U+1F647 PERSON BOWING DEEPLY :bow:

Nearly three years since they officially blessed it with “partner” access (and after 14 billion emoji tweets tracked), Twitter has decided to shut Emojitracker down.

To be more accurate, they are removing its elevated access to the Streaming API that Emojitracker depends on in order to operate at its high volume:

Twitter shut down Emojitracker's access

After a brief investigation, the aforementioned Gnip migration does not seem feasible for me:

  1. When last I evaluated it, the APIs available via Gnip that did not support the level of fine-grained Unicode control Emojitracker currently utilizes.
  2. Gnip costs :money_with_wings::money_with_wings::money_with_wings:.
  3. It is a strong philosophical requirement for me that 100% the work I produce is freely available and open source. The Gnip API is commercial, closed, and proprietary; a normal developer can’t just start hacking on it. So even if Twitter were to give me free access to the Gnip APIs, others then wouldn’t be able to take my code and build upon it the way they have been able to do so previously with Emojitracker. Emojitracker was a wonderful showcase of the possibilities afforded to independent developers (something I spoke a little about in this interview ), and I’m sad to see this no longer seems to be important to the Twitter Platform.

Even if for some reason the above were not true—there still would remain the work of migrating a major component of Emojitracker’s infrastructure (which has been performance tuned to somewhat ludicrous degrees over years of development)—with ~30 days notice. To be frank, I’m not interested in investing that level of effort for a very uncertain future on Twitter’s platform. Therefore, my current plan is to shutdown Emojitracker at the end of its partner Twitter Streaming API access on 4/21/2016.

I’ve replied to Twitter asking for an exception, but I honestly don’t expect to receive one—and even if I were to, it wouldn’t help other developers who I believe deserve to get the same level of opportunity as me .

As for Emojitracker, well, it’s had a good run. For a project with a silly premise, it’s been featured in nearly ever single major national newspaper at least once (and many international publications), countless periodicals, even art galleries, and television news. It was the probable data source for 2014’s Word of the Year . It’s even been called out by the Unicode Consortium as a major factor in how new emoji got selected:

It’s also, as those of you who know me well, taken a massive toll on my personal time and ability to work on new projects:

From a technical craft perspective, I learned an immense amount building and scaling Emojitracker— I still believe the best way to push yourself to develop your skill set is to try to build something that seems just on the edge of impossible, but then keep chipping away until it becomes slightly possible. The two rambling blog posts (1,2) I wrote about my technical misadventures have now been read tens of thousands of times, so I guess there’s some nerd entertainment value contained in there along with my struggles.

So, enjoy it while it lasts! If you want to keep on my newer projects, the best option is to follow me on GitHub where I’m fairly active (or to a much lesser extent: Twitter ). I have a number of hopefully fun projects in the works!

:wave:,Matthew Rothenberg

P.S. A special thanks to some wonderful people I met through Emojitracker and the emoji community that I might not have had the opportunity to otherwise: Zoë Salditch, Fred Benenson, Jeremy Burge.

FAQs:

What about the Emojitracker API?

I’ll keep it running for as long as it makes sense and I’m able. While the information obviously won’t continue to update past the deadline, I’ll leave it up for people who want access to the historic snapshot from time-of-death. Past that point, my plan is to figure out a reasonable archived format to put that data online in an easily parseable and freely copyable format (thanks Fred for that suggestion!).

What about history trend data from Emojitracker?

Emojitracker was intentionally architected to operate in realtime only, as the immense volume of data it operates on has made storing historic data prohibitively expensive for an independent art project. However, a number of academic papers have been published using samples and subsets of the Emojitracker data. I will try to update this post with links to them soon (I haven’t done a wonderful job of keeping track, sincere apologies for that).

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