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Twitter offers boffins a free sip of its data firehose

Data Grants project cracks open the blue bird's tweet horde

Bridging the IT gap between rising business demands and ageing tools

Natter emitter Twitter will give boffins access to a free squirt of its data firehose, paving the way for more studies that make use of the swelling amounts of donated information on the network.

The company announced its "Data Grants" program in a blog post on Wednesday after filing bleak financial results that showed swelling revenues but slowing user growth.

The pilot program will let academics get access to free datasets from Twitter – which is currently flowing at the torrid rate of some 500 million curt babbleposts a day. Twitter made $20m on data licensing and "other" revenue in the last three months.

"To date, it has been challenging for researchers outside the company who are tackling big questions to collaborate with us to access our public, historical data," the company wrote. "Our Data Grants program aims to change that by connecting research institutions and academics with the data they need."

Individuals or teams "of any size" can apply for the initial Data Grants pilot, Twitter writes, as long as the individual submitting the proposal is a member of the academic research community and over 18 years old.

Applicants can submit a proposal description of up to 500 words – with a back-of-the-envelope calculation that assumes an average of five characters per word, that amounts to around 22 tweets including spaces – along with descriptions of technical experience, social experience, funding, start time, end time, keyword filters, and other more advanced filters.

Successful applications will get their data courtesy of Gnip, Twitter's favored reseller of the vast swathes of data found on the social blabber network.

"In addition to the data, we will also be offering opportunities for the selected institutions to collaborate with Twitter engineers and researchers," the company writes.

Applicants have until the 15th of March to apply. ®

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