New Methodologies for Researching News Discussion on Twitter Axel Bruns and Jean Burgess ARC Centre of Excellence for Creative Industries and Innovation Queensland University of Technology Brisbane, Australia a.bruns / firstname.lastname@example.org @snurb_dot_info / @jeanburgess http://mappingonlinepublics.net/
Why Twitter? Researching news discussion on Twitter: Significant world-wide social network ~200 million users (but how many active?) Varied range of uses: from phatic communication to emergency coordination Flat and open network structure: non-reciprocal following, public profiles by default Commonly used in the coverage and discussion of breaking news events and ongoing stories Good API for data journalism
Twitter and the News Key news-related uses of Twitter: First-hand news reports: Emergency landing in the Hudson; Abbottabad raid; storms, earthquakes, tsunamis Continuing news discussion: Information sharing (gatewatching); commentary; story curation through hashtags ‘Ambient’ news coverage (Hermida; Burns): Early indicator of breaking stories; trending topics, themes, URLs, etc. Tool for sourcing, tracking, finding stories
#hashtags on Twitter Hashtag =‘#’ + alphanumeric characters: Automatic tracking & aggregation of a topic, represented with a hyperlink Originally a (lead) user innovation, later integrated into platform Simple, adaptive and generative Can coordinate, render visible, and constitute publics
#hashtag Publics Publics: Attend to matters of shared concern with some level of co-awareness Varied in intensity and temporality Emergent, constituted via discourse & affect #hashtag publics: Not all hashtags constitute publics; Twitter doesn’t ‘contain’ publics What are the various patterns in the dynamics of different hashtag-based publics? What might account for these differences?
Data Gathering yourTwapperkeeper: API-based data capture Data Processing Gawk – open source, multiplatform, programmable command-line tool for processing CSV documents Textual Analysis Leximancer – commercial (University of Queensland), multiplatform: extracts key concepts from large corpora of text, examines and visualises concept co-occurrence WordStat – commercial, PC-only text analysis tool; generates concept co-occurrence data that can be exported for visualisation Visualisation Gephi – open source, multiplatform network visualisation tool Tools for Researching Twitter
#hashtags in Context? Follower/followee network:~150,000 Australian Twitter users(of ~550,000 known accounts so far) colour = outdegree, size = indegree
Data Journalism (Research) beyond Twitter Data journalism is a growing field Data journalism research necessary to inform both journalism theory and practice Twitter is a key news space now, and needs to be further researched Other social media may come to replace it, but many methods will remain similar Potential to generate new insights well beyond journalism itself: popular sentiment and interests, communication, culture, … Many tools available, but more methods work necessary!