The Use of Twitter Hashtags in the Formation of Ad Hoc Publics 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/
#hashtags on Twitter Hashtag =‘#’ + some 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
Introduction & Contestation In 2007, Twitter didn’t have trending topics, integrated search or hashtags
Adoption & Retention Compelling use cases, uptake by influential lead users Very simple architectural integration (built-in ‘tracking’ feature) Uptake in external developer community (Twitter Search, hashtags.orgetc)
#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?
Forming an Ad Hoc Issue Public #spill as a hashtag takeover: Ok what's with the #spill tag? Has BP dumped more oil? those who do not know a #spill in leadership terms is basically saying the big job is now vacant no relation to the oil spill of bp style
An Ad Hoc Public: #eqnz @replies mainstream media authorities utilities
Managing the Hashtag Ensuring ‘proper’ use: @NZcivildefence please use #eqnz hashtag. Thanks. Earthquake in New Zealand = #eqnz. Earthquake in Japan = #eqjp. Earthquake in the U.S. = #earthquake. Hmmmmmm.
Ad Hoc? Crises and Other Events (top 1% most active users in each hashtag;size = percentage of total tweet volume)
Beyond Hashtags Publics on Twitter: Micro: @reply and retweet conversations Meso: hashtag ‘communities’ Macro: follower/followee networks Multiple overlapping publics / networks What drives their formation and dissipation? How do they interact and interweave? How are they interleaved with the wider media ecology? Twitter doesn’t contain publics: publics transcend Twitter
The Australian Twittersphere Follower/followee network:~150,000 Australian Twitter users(of ~550,000 known accounts so far) colour = outdegree, size = indegree