Mapping Online Publics on Twitter


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Keynote presented by Axel Bruns and Jean Burgess at the Düsseldorf Workshop on Interdisciplinary Approaches to Twitter Analysis, 14 Sep. 2011.

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Mapping Online Publics on Twitter

  1. 1. Mapping Online Publics on Twitter<br />Axel Bruns and Jean Burgess<br />ARC Centre of Excellence for Creative Industries and Innovation<br />Queensland University of Technology<br />Brisbane, Australia<br />a.bruns /<br />@snurb_dot_info / @jeanburgess<br /><br />
  2. 2. Social Media Research in the CCI<br />ARC Centre of Excellence for Creative Industries & Innovation (national, based at QUT)<br />Project: Media Ecologies & Methodological Innovation<br />With Journalism & Media Research Centre (JMRC) @ UNSW<br />Aims to implement new methods to understand the changing media environment;<br />Focusing on the relationship between social media and traditional media and communication platforms;<br />Combining large-scale computer-assisted techniques with qualitative social research and close textual analysis<br />Focus on Crisis Communication<br />Natural disasters<br />Other ‘acute events’<br />
  3. 3. New Media and Public Communication: Mapping Australian User-Created Content in Online Social Networks<br />Bruns, Burgess, Kirchhoff & Nicolai<br /><br />Australian Research Council (ARC): Discovery Project (2010-13) – $410,000<br />QUT (Brisbane), Sociomantic Labs (Berlin)<br />First comprehensive study of Australian social media use.<br />Computer-assisted cultural analysis: tracking, mapping, analysing blogs, twitter, flickr, youtube as ‘networked publics’<br />Builds on previous work of the research team (UCC, YouTube, blogosphere mapping)<br />Advances beyond established approaches - beyond political blogospheres, beyond snapshots<br />Addressing the problem of scale (‘Big Data’) and disciplinary change in media, cultural and communication studies.<br />
  4. 4. #hashtags on Twitter<br />Hashtag =‘#’ + alphanumeric characters: <br />Automatic tracking & aggregation of a topic, represented with a hyperlink<br />Originally a (lead) user innovation, later integrated into platform<br />Simple, adaptive and generative<br />Can coordinate, render visible, and constitute publics<br />
  5. 5. #hashtag Publics<br />Publics: <br />Attend to matters of shared concern with some level of co-awareness<br />Varied in intensity and temporality<br />Emergent, constituted via discourse & affect <br />#hashtag publics:<br />Not all hashtags constitute publics; Twitter doesn’t ‘contain’ publics<br />What are the various patterns in the dynamics of different hashtag-based publics?<br />What might account for these differences?<br />
  6. 6. Data Gathering<br />yourTwapperkeeper: API-based data capture<br />Data Processing<br />Gawk – open source, multiplatform, programmable command-line tool for processing CSV documents<br />Textual Analysis<br />Leximancer – commercial (University of Queensland), multiplatform: extracts key concepts from large corpora of text, examines and visualises concept co-occurrence<br />WordStat – commercial, PC-only text analysis tool; generates concept co-occurrence data that can be exported for visualisation<br />Visualisation<br />Gephi – open source, multiplatform network visualisation tool<br />Tools for Researching Twitter<br />
  7. 7. #ausvotes (July-Aug. 2010)<br />
  8. 8. #royalwedding (29 Apr. 2011)<br />
  9. 9. #eqnz (Feb./Mar. 2011)<br />
  10. 10. #qldfloods: @QPSmedia (Jan. 2011)<br />
  11. 11. #ausvotes: Leaders<br />
  12. 12. #ausvotes: Themes<br />
  13. 13. #spill (23 June 2010)<br />
  14. 14. #GoBackSBS (June/July 2011)<br />
  15. 15. Comparative Metrics<br />
  16. 16. Towards a Typology of Twitter Uses<br />How are hashtags used (during acute events)?<br />Gatewatching: <br />Finding and sharing information about breaking news (before the mainstream media do?)<br />Ad hoc publics: many URLs, many retweets (even unedited)<br />Audiencing:<br />Shared experience of major (foreseen) events<br />Imagined community of fellow participants: few URLs, limited retweeting<br />What other uses are there?<br />Continuing discussions (#auspol, #bundesliga, …)<br />Memes (#ghettohurricanenames, …)<br />Emotive hashtags (#fail, #win, #headdesk, …)<br />What about keywords?<br />
  17. 17. Beyond Hashtags<br />Publics on Twitter:<br />Micro: @reply and retweet conversations<br />Meso: hashtag ‘communities’<br />Macro: follower/followee networks<br /> Multiple overlapping publics / networks<br />What drives their formation and dissipation?<br />How do they interact and interweave?<br />How are they interleaved with the wider media ecology?<br />Twitter doesn’t contain publics: publics transcend Twitter<br />
  18. 18. Understanding Australian Twitter Use<br />What is the Australian Twitteruserbase?<br />Large-scale snowballing project<br />Starting from selected hashtag communities (e.g. #ausvotes, #qldfloods, #masterchef)<br />Identifying participating users, testing for ‘Australianness’:<br />Timezone setting, location information, profile information<br />Retrieving follower/followee information for each account (very slow)<br />Progress update:<br />~550,000 Australian users identified so far<br />
  19. 19. The Australian Twittersphere<br />Follower/followee network:~150,000 Australian Twitter users(of ~550,000 known accounts so far) colour = outdegree, size = indegree<br />
  20. 20. The Australian Twittersphere<br />
  21. 21.<br />@snurb_dot_info<br />@jeanburgess<br />