#Hashtags as #Spectacle
#BostonStrong
and
The Materiality of Metadata
Jim McGrath, Northeastern University Twitter: @JimMc...
“Information overload
might not have increased
the rate at which
disasters occur, but it has
exponentially increased
the r...
April 15th, 2013 (4:12pm)
(View Tweet on Twitter)
Our Marathon
northeastern.edu/marathon
#BostonStrong
(Source: Our Marathon)
(Source: Our Marathon)
(Source: Our Marathon)
#BostonTearParty
#sportscry
#prayforboston
“Digital Dualism” (Nathan Jurgenson, 2011)
“Digital dualists believe
that the digital world is
“virtual” and the physical
...
“…the digital and physical
are increasingly
meshed, and [I] want to
call this opposite
perspective that implodes
atoms and...
#bostonstrong
(Source: Twitter via WEEI)
BOSTON STRONG
(Source: Our Marathon)
(Source: Our Marathon)
Jim’s First Tweet (June 18, 2007)
(Source: OED)
Metadata
Jim’s First Tweet (June 18, 2007)
No Metadata 
Jim’s First Tweet (June 18, 2007)
METADATA :O
Jim’s First Tweet (June 18, 2007)
(Source: Twitter)
The #Origin of #Hashtags
on #Twitter
(October 2007)
(Source: Chris Messina’s Blog *FactoryCity])
The #Origin of #Hashtags on
#Twitter
(October 2007)
“I’m more interested in simply having
a better eavesdropping experienc...
The #Origin of #Hashtags on
#Twitter
(October 2007)
• easy to learn
• flexible
• “folksonomic”
(Source: Chris Messina’s Bl...
“Unlike traditional tagging systems
used for information
archival, Twitter hashtags can serve
either as a label for identi...
#Hashtags
“*A+ hashtag’s publicity and
legitimacy is driven by social
exposure as part of a process
of complex contagion:
...
Twitter as Commodity
(Source: CNBC)
Twitter and The 2013 Boston Marathon Bombings
(Source: Rogers; Twitter’s Media Blog)
Twitter and the 2013 Boston Marathon Bombings
(Source: Rogers; Twitter’s Media Blog)
#bostonstrong
(Source: Twitter via WEEI)
“We focus on the emergent use of
hashtags #prayforboston and
#bostonstrong. “
“The first hashtag #prayforboston
became pop...
“Outside Boston, the level of
interests for Twitter users in
expressing comfort (in terms of
#prayforboston volume) and
co...
“Similar to the detected
fear, the use of the two
hashtags exhibit a ripple
effect corresponding to the
geographical proxi...
What does #bostonstrong mean to users?
"We developed Boston
Strong off of Livestrong
and Army Strong, because
it was somet...
What does #bostonstrong mean to users?
"It was something my dad had
always said along the way
with his dealings with the
B...
"I just thought it was a
takeoff on the Livestrong
[Lance Armstrong's
foundation]," Clough said.
"But for me, this was my
...
(Source: Our Marathon)
(Source: Twitter)
(Source: Garrettsville Area Chamber of Commerce)
“From the 1980s concept of cyberspace to 1990s software such as
Netscape Navigator, interacting with computerize data and ...
Web browsers in the 1990s
(Internet Explorer and Netscape Navigator)
Metaphors and mechanisms that privilege “a single use...
TweetDeck
(Source: Watchmen)
(Source: Miroshnichenko. 2013)
(Source: Twitter)
The fundamental difference
between the Viral Editor and
the brain is that the Viral
Editor is capable of capturing
his own...
#Hashtags and their relationship to other modes of writing
and circulating content online
• Active engagement vs. Passive ...
Works Cited
Bradford, Rob. “The Birth of ‘Boston Strong’: How A Father’s Message Led to a Historic
Slogan.” WEEI. 2014
Jur...
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"Hashtags as Spectacle: #bostonstrong and The Materiality of Metadata" (EGSA #spect2014 Conference)

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Presentation given at Northeastern University's English Graduate Student Association Conference in March 2014. This is a rough set of slides in search of an idea for an article: more thinking out loud about stuff than something well-formed. Topics include Twitter, hashtags, and specific content like #bostonstrong. Slides are hyperlinked and cited. Questions / comments can be directed to mcgrath.ja@husky.neu.edu

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  • More interesting components to Twitter activity / more interesting ways to think about how people read and use social media than JUST the economic realities
  • "Hashtags as Spectacle: #bostonstrong and The Materiality of Metadata" (EGSA #spect2014 Conference)

    1. 1. #Hashtags as #Spectacle #BostonStrong and The Materiality of Metadata Jim McGrath, Northeastern University Twitter: @JimMc_Grath EGSA Conference (The Spectacular!) Northeastern University (March 29th, 2014)
    2. 2. “Information overload might not have increased the rate at which disasters occur, but it has exponentially increased the rate at which they’re witnessed.” Douglas Rushkoff, Present Shock (2013)
    3. 3. April 15th, 2013 (4:12pm) (View Tweet on Twitter)
    4. 4. Our Marathon northeastern.edu/marathon
    5. 5. #BostonStrong (Source: Our Marathon)
    6. 6. (Source: Our Marathon)
    7. 7. (Source: Our Marathon)
    8. 8. #BostonTearParty
    9. 9. #sportscry
    10. 10. #prayforboston
    11. 11. “Digital Dualism” (Nathan Jurgenson, 2011) “Digital dualists believe that the digital world is “virtual” and the physical world “real.” This bias motivates many of the critiques of sites like Facebook and the rest of the social web…”
    12. 12. “…the digital and physical are increasingly meshed, and [I] want to call this opposite perspective that implodes atoms and bits rather than holding them conceptually separate augmented reality.” “Digital Dualism” (Nathan Jurgenson, 2011)
    13. 13. #bostonstrong (Source: Twitter via WEEI)
    14. 14. BOSTON STRONG
    15. 15. (Source: Our Marathon)
    16. 16. (Source: Our Marathon)
    17. 17. Jim’s First Tweet (June 18, 2007)
    18. 18. (Source: OED) Metadata
    19. 19. Jim’s First Tweet (June 18, 2007) No Metadata 
    20. 20. Jim’s First Tweet (June 18, 2007) METADATA :O
    21. 21. Jim’s First Tweet (June 18, 2007)
    22. 22. (Source: Twitter)
    23. 23. The #Origin of #Hashtags on #Twitter (October 2007) (Source: Chris Messina’s Blog *FactoryCity])
    24. 24. The #Origin of #Hashtags on #Twitter (October 2007) “I’m more interested in simply having a better eavesdropping experience on Twitter.” (Source: Chris Messina’s Blog *FactoryCity])
    25. 25. The #Origin of #Hashtags on #Twitter (October 2007) • easy to learn • flexible • “folksonomic” (Source: Chris Messina’s Blog *FactoryCity])
    26. 26. “Unlike traditional tagging systems used for information archival, Twitter hashtags can serve either as a label for identifying topically relevant streams of message or a prompt for commenting and sharing.“ “Hashtags often fill a dual role as both a topical identifier (e.g., #iPhone) and a symbol of a community membership (e.g., #VoteForObama).” #Hashtags (Source:Lin et al) [#BigBirds])
    27. 27. #Hashtags “*A+ hashtag’s publicity and legitimacy is driven by social exposure as part of a process of complex contagion: hashtags grow because they are adopted by users with social connections to one another, and by users’ repeated use and spreading the word to others of interests.” (Source: Lin et al [#BigBirds])
    28. 28. Twitter as Commodity (Source: CNBC)
    29. 29. Twitter and The 2013 Boston Marathon Bombings (Source: Rogers; Twitter’s Media Blog)
    30. 30. Twitter and the 2013 Boston Marathon Bombings (Source: Rogers; Twitter’s Media Blog)
    31. 31. #bostonstrong (Source: Twitter via WEEI)
    32. 32. “We focus on the emergent use of hashtags #prayforboston and #bostonstrong. “ “The first hashtag #prayforboston became popular immediately after the bombings, used by both Boston and non- Boston users, to send comfort messages to Bostonians.” “The second hashtag #bostonstrong was populated two days after and gained its highest popularity around April 20 due to the “Boston Strong” community events. This hashtag reflects a sense of community identity of Bostonians.” (Source: Lin [2014]) #prayforboston and #bostonstrong
    33. 33. “Outside Boston, the level of interests for Twitter users in expressing comfort (in terms of #prayforboston volume) and community identity (in terms of #bostonstrong volume) vary with cities. The hashtag #prayforboston had a wider reach than the hashtag #bostonstrong – among the 25 cities considered in this analysis, #prayforboston appeared in 23 cities, while #bostonstrong only appeared in 17 cities.” (Source: Lin [2014])
    34. 34. “Similar to the detected fear, the use of the two hashtags exhibit a ripple effect corresponding to the geographical proximity of cities…" (Source: Lin [2014])
    35. 35. What does #bostonstrong mean to users? "We developed Boston Strong off of Livestrong and Army Strong, because it was something simple people could get behind." (Source: WEEI)
    36. 36. What does #bostonstrong mean to users? "It was something my dad had always said along the way with his dealings with the Boston people and the salesmen. It was always Boston Strong this, and Boston Strong that. I remember that from my dad, and it just seemed to fit in that situation. That’s why I put the tweet out.” (Source: WEEI)
    37. 37. "I just thought it was a takeoff on the Livestrong [Lance Armstrong's foundation]," Clough said. "But for me, this was my dad's thing. To me it was more family and personal more than anything else." What does #bostonstrong mean to Twitter users? (Source: WEEI)
    38. 38. (Source: Our Marathon)
    39. 39. (Source: Twitter)
    40. 40. (Source: Garrettsville Area Chamber of Commerce)
    41. 41. “From the 1980s concept of cyberspace to 1990s software such as Netscape Navigator, interacting with computerize data and media has been consistently framed in spatial terms… Thus, “navigating the Internet” includes following hyperlinks, using menus commonly provided by Web sites, as well as using search engines.” (Source: Manovich, 2001) Navigating and Exploring the Web at The End of the 20th Century
    42. 42. Web browsers in the 1990s (Internet Explorer and Netscape Navigator) Metaphors and mechanisms that privilege “a single user navigating through web sites rather than more communal experiences, such as newsgroups, mailing lists, text-based chat…” “a single user navigating through an unknown territory rather than a member of a group, even if this group is a crowd of strangers.” (Source: Manovich 2001)
    43. 43. TweetDeck
    44. 44. (Source: Watchmen)
    45. 45. (Source: Miroshnichenko. 2013)
    46. 46. (Source: Twitter)
    47. 47. The fundamental difference between the Viral Editor and the brain is that the Viral Editor is capable of capturing his own historical states, which make up his unique, archival memory, and this memory is accessible at any point in time and from any point in time. (Source: Miroshnichenko. 2013)
    48. 48. #Hashtags and their relationship to other modes of writing and circulating content online • Active engagement vs. Passive consumption • (the limits of this binary) • How we use media / how media is changing • Uses in the construction of public identities • Communal dimension of hashtags • Archival implications • Potential for researchers #Thanks #nofilter
    49. 49. Works Cited Bradford, Rob. “The Birth of ‘Boston Strong’: How A Father’s Message Led to a Historic Slogan.” WEEI. 2014 Jurgenson, Nathan. “Digital Dualism and The Fallacy of Web Objectivity.” Cyborgology Post, 2011 Lin, Yu-Ru. “The Ripples of Fear, Comfort, and Community Identity During the Boston Bombings.” 2014. Lin, Yu-Ru et al. “#BigBirds Never Die: Understanding Social Dynamic of Emergent Hashtags.” 2013 Manovich, Lev. The Language of New Media. 2001 Miroshnichenko, Andrey. Man as Media: The Emancipation of Authorship. 2013. Messina, Chris. “Groups for Twitter; or, A Proposal for Twitter Tag Channels.” 2007. Our Marathon: The Boston Bombing Digital Archive Rogers, Simon. “The Boston Bombing: How journalists used Twitter to tell the story.” Twitter Media Blog. 2013 Rushkoff, Douglas. Present Shock: When Everything Happens Now. 2013.
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