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SHORTer VERSION - Liminality and Communitas in Social Media - The case of Twitter

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A longer version, optimized for the lack of verbal input, can be found here: http://www.slideshare.net/anaj/liminality-and-communitas-in-social-media-the-case-of-twitter

A longer version, optimized for the lack of verbal input, can be found here: http://www.slideshare.net/anaj/liminality-and-communitas-in-social-media-the-case-of-twitter

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  • 1. Liminality and Communitas in Social Media: The Case of Twitter Jana Herwig, M.A. Dept. of Theatre, Film & Media Studies University of Vienna Email: [email_address] Twitter: @digiom Blog: digiom.wordpress.com
  • 2. Hum? Tendovaginitis Microlearning Conference Innsbruck Holiday My Twittering according to Tweetstats.com
  • 3. Rite of Passage (Turner): 1 - Subject is stripped of its social status 2 - Liminality: Subject goes through a transitional phase marked by chaos, anti-structure and egalitarian relations between initiands (communitas) 3 - Reintegration with an elevated status
  • 4. 0 friends 0 followers 0 updates Detachment from Social Status
  • 5. Chaos and anti-structure
  • 6. Levelling of hierarchies pic by @mimimixer
  • 7.
    • Interfaces
    • Analysis of the symbols
    • that shape liminoid experience
    • Users
    • Chronological close reading of individual timelines
    • Social Media Services
    • ‘ Early adopters’ vs ‘mainstream users’
  • 8. Symbols of inclusion/exclusion Log-in Sign-up
  • 9. Sign-up? (how cynical…)
  • 10. Optional anonymity: No real name check… yet (Project Verified Accounts) Creation of liminoid subject
  • 11.
    • Why anonymity (rather: lack of notoriety) matters
    • Communitas is volatile: With real names and ‘meat space’ relationships, social structures and hierarchies are re-injected into Twitter.
    How did it feel when your boss (colleague, high school mate, mother ...) started following you on Twitter? (email me: jana.herwig@univie.ac.at)
  • 12. Example 1: With its more than 2 million followers, the account @oprah receives several replies in an hour, but has replied just six times in its first seven months – just once to a non-celebrity.
  • 13. Example 2: Although the informal ‘Du’ is typically used between German-speaking Twitter users, the account of Austrian TV-anchor @ArminWolf is mostly addressed with the formal ‘Sie’.
  • 14.
    • Anonymity structures competition between Social Media platforms
    • Facebook : Oppressed. Accounts with ‘fake’ names are suspended
    • 4chan Random board /b/ : Enforced. Derogatory terms for users w/ names
    • Twitter : Optional Anonymity;
    • Nuanced negotiation of Anonymity/notoriety
    • Incentives to give up anonymity
  • 15. Sample 1: signed-up Oct’06 - Mar‘07 94% (15 out of 16) went on a hiatus of ≥ 28 days, 75% (12) did so in first 2 months Sample 2: signed-up Mar’09 - Jul‘09 9% (1 out of 11) stopped updating for ≥ 28 days (max. time on Twitter: 6 months)
  • 16. User A
  • 17. User B
  • 18. User D
  • 19. User G
  • 20. User K
  • 21. User L The used visualization tool tweetstats.com starts with the first update; User L wrote the first update 600 days after signing-up.
  • 22. User O (‘Lead User’) Video with all activity patterns in sample 1: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VhPdQaZ_Wu4
  • 23.
    • What do people write about when they first use or when they return to Twitter?
  • 24.
    • View on Twitter as a web technology
    • “ Testing this twitter Flex interface”
    • “ wondering if there’s a way to push Adium / Facebook updates to Twitter automatically”
    • “ Just twitting from my DOS console”
    • “ Trying to figure out the twitter api”
  • 25.
    • View on Twitter as part of a mobile gadget culture
    • “ Loving my Touch. Mobilicious.”
    • “ Got a nokia e61i now... Getting connected to everything mobile”
    • “ Google Latitude... Cool... http://is.gd/ijOV”
  • 26. Sample 1: signed-up Oct’06 - Mar‘07 ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● 12.5% women (2 of 16 active users, randomly identified) Sample 1: signed-up Oct’06 - Mar‘07 ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● 91% women (10 of 11 active users, randomly identified)
  • 27.
    • View on Twitter as a social sphere
    • “ thinking about next season as a Happy Hammer - prompted by a fellow fan now following me.”
    • “ @xxx You are not the only one in the UK that is glad to see AmberMac back on here, Shame Net@Nite is no longer recorded live though ”
  • 28.
    • Twitter as a liminal challenge
    • “ Testing this gadget”
    • “ Testing twitter”
    • “ back”
    • “ ASDf”
    • “ mic check, 1-2”
    • “ i totally forgot about twitter, i suck”
    • “ trying to remember how to use twitter”
  • 29.
    • Early Twitter as asocial medium
    • In their very first update, 87.5% (14 out of 16) reported what they were doing.
    • (one reported what he was going to do, another posted a sequence of arbitrary characters).
    • Study by Mischaud 2007: 41.5%
    • reported what they were doing
    • (Content analysis of 5767 tweets from 60 users)
  • 30.
    • The social dimension
    • Are users aware of the presence of others?
    • (User L’s sixth update, posted on day 745 on Twitter, responding to someone with a similar nickname)
  • 31.
    • The @-response as indicator
    • After having posted their first @-response, 75% of users in the ‘early adopter’ sample did not experience another hiatus .
  • 32.
    • The 1 st @-response
    • Early adopters: within 21 to 745 days
    • (average: 411, median: 404)
    • It was contained in update no.
    • 3 to 302 (average: no. 68, median 34)
    • Mainstream users achieved this within
    • 1 to 25 days (average: 8, median: 4)
    • It was contained in update no.
    • 1 to 64 (average: no. 14, median: 6)
  • 33.
    • Types of Social mechanisms
    • Default social mechanisms:
    • Built into the system, could be triggered automatically, e.g. @-response.
    • Emergent social mechanisms:
    • Result of collective experiment with social-semantic opportunities of a text field,
    • e.g. retweeting, hashtags (may be turned into default ones)
  • 34.
    • Appropriation of # and RT
    • Hashtags:
    • EA 292 - 957 d (average 697, median 708.5)
    • MS 1 - 143 days (average 45, median 31)
    • Retweeting:
    • EA 405 - 947 days (average 701, median 705)
    • MS 1 - 94 days (average 39, median 34,5)
    • (N.B. These mechanisms had presumably not yet emerged when sample 1 signed up)
  • 35.
    • Creation of a Liminal Subject
    • < First steps on Twitter
    • Communitas as anti-structural community >
    • < Forms of community that become possible (and are also precarious) on Twitter
    • Role of Liminality within society >
    • < Social Media as space for social innovation
    • Social Media exist at the interface of technology, individual practice & society.
  • 36. Questions or Feedback? Send an email to jana . [email_address] . ac .at or, preferably, post a comment on my blog. You can also download the draft paper (with data, comment and annotations) from there: http: //digiom . wordpress . com/2009/10/05/coming-to-grips-with-twitter-200607-vs-2009 Short link: http: //wp . me/peBnE-u4 Longer version of this presentation (optimized for lack of audio) is on slideshare, username anaj