My presentation today will discuss live tweeting as a fandom altering activity, as guided by the questions above: How does live tweeting address live broadcasting issues in terms of NHL fandom? How is Twitter different than broadcasting, and does it require new conceptual frameworks than those we have created for broadcasting? If not, what does that say about tweeting as a technique for active citizenship in the sports fandom culture?Before we can answer these questions, we need to understand the concepts of fandom in the NHL,live tweeting, And some contextual questions raised by the cultural citizenship literature.
Since the development of the Internet, the fan experience has become globalised and more accessible to people around the world.Twitter specificallyis characterized by immediacy and interactivity. All tweets, including replies and retweets, are public and accessible online to users who are not subscribed to Twitter, unless that tweeter chooses to make his or her feed private. Twitter users can also use hashtags to make a word or expression more searchable or easier for others to track in real time through third-party tools. This is a particularly important facet of live tweeting, as tweeters will use a team’s standardised tag (e.g., #Wild) to contribute to and follow partisan discussions.A 2010 broadcasting industry report explains that the rise of Twitter has only amplified basic sporting event programming, and sporting events have become a multiplatform experience. Following the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the IOC reported that people witnessing the Games via television and internet coverage consumed twice as much content as those who just consumed TV. Twitter fandom has been shown to increase audience engagement with the broadcast, and significant lifts in social media buzz can be related back to specific moments in a live telecast. The cross-platform game-watching experience adds an additional layer to fandom that would not be reached through a medium that is not as immediate, interactive or intimate as Twitter. By tweeting, fans are actively contributing to reshaping the discourses being developed in relation to that sporting event even while the event is still taking place. The concept of “audience” from a broadcasting framework is no longer applicable in the Twitter fandom context because it becomes difficult to distinguish between producers and consumers. Of course, Twitter fans are still an audience in terms of spectatorship. But they’re watching Twitter, not just TV. Sport, in this sense, is a “simultaneously embodied and mediated experience, a dominant form of media content and representation globally, and a site where social media technologies are used for varying purposes”, and as Rowe has stated, are an integral part of international culture and heritage
Let’s talk about the NHL and social media. According to an often quoted market research survey, the NHL is the North American pro sports league with the most educated, the youngest and the most tech savvy fans. NHL fans were some of the first to truly embrace social media as a whole, as part of their digital fandom routine. Because of this, the NHL as a league encourages its teams and employees to have active Twitter presences. Interestingly, players are now restricted from tweeting on gamedays.Sports fans use Twitter in a variety of ways, interacting with the game, the sport, reporters and players, though the players don’t tend to reply back. This increased fan engagement creates a citizen-led conversation around the sport that was not possible with live sports broadcasting.
So what is live tweeting anyway? Live-tweeting is, in essence, tweeting something that’s happening live. More specifically, it’s posting updates related to a specific event like a conference, often using a specific hashtag, for other attendees and those participating remotely.In sport, those who can’t watch or listen to the game tend to follow team hashtags, because they know they’ll get the important parts. While live-tweeting can’t replicate the feel and flow of a game, it can certainly inform the audience, and it also creates a basis for conversations related to the game in progress, while it is still taking place.The live tweeting experience affectsboth tweeting fans and those lurking on Twitter while watching the game. It also includes fans who use Twitter as a replacement for watching the game. It is also worth noting that the live-tweeting experience is intermittent. You do not need to be following the stream in real time to understand what is going on, though it is certainly helpful for large scale events. Users reading feeds after the fact would see peaks in the game, but they would also see fragmented conversations they knew nothing about, since live tweets tend to spur random side conversations.SoWHO LIVE TWEETS anyway? Obviously, fans or those whose interest has been peaked for that particular game, team or play. In terms of demographics, Twitter is most popular with young to middle-aged adults, and from personal experience, that’s who I tend to see live tweeting most often. Despite high fan identification levels, not everyone has adopted Twitter as an essential aspect of their performance of NHL fandom. Even those who have made it their main sport source still use it in coordination with other online and offline resources. Interestingly, I have noticed that evenfans who mainlyuse Twitter for their in-game experience because they don’t have access to a broadcast feed will revert to a real television set when possible. Of course, Twitter usage is still subject to issues related to class, accessibility, and the need for a technological understanding that goes beyond basic digital literacy. So how is it different from broadcasting? This is the question I asked myself as I was trying to come up with a new conceptual framework for understanding cultural citizenship in this context.
As David Rowe explains in his 2004 articles, live television sport is one of the key sites where cultural citizenship tensions have been played out, especially since the medium has become globalised. Indeed, TV is probably the most sensational and regular vehicle for conveying and communicating both global and national culture. And sport’s importance in national culture is highlighted by its choice as a value dissemination tool, says Rowe.Just like sport, I think Twitter could be described as a new form of “instantaneous representation” of a culture, power inequalities and all. In this context, I would say being a Twitter user make you a cultural citizen of Twitter. As a sport fan on Twitter, you a citizen not only of the sport culture but of the Twitter culture, and you can participate in and contribute to both at the same time. I would even go so far as to say that on Twitter, the participating members of a sport’s discourse are citizens of a separate, unique culture that blends new media and sport audience values.Several studies on social TV show that Twitter allows for audience increases where other forms of television have stagnated. This change in audience types has brought on a change in audience demands. This also means that Rowe’s criteria for gauging cultural citizenship frameworks in public broadcasters’ involvement in sport has changed. So let’s compare sports fandom in broadcasting and on Twitter using this lens.
First off, there’s access. Where traditional broadcastingrestricts viewer access, culturally, politically, socially, and economically, social media and Twitter allow some of these viewers to participate. Fans who didn’t have access to TV channels or web streams can now take to Twitter to participate in live sporting events, and that doesn’t even require a computer, just an Internet-capable phone. Enterprising fans could even subscribe to a team’s play-by-play Twitter feed by SMS, eliminating the need for mobile web access. Still, the medium restricts access for viewers who don’t have technological knowledge, time, or Internet access, amongst others. Many people tend to have smart devices these days, despite not having the income to afford them, so these technologies might allow sports media culture to be more accessible than ever before: a cellphone has become an expensive but excusable necessity, whereas owning a computer, television, or paying for cable or Internet service may not be. Plus, the simple fact that Twitter allows different voices to be heard makes it more accessible.But Twitter isn’t always reliable. During major breaking news events, the servers may become overwhelmed, and the platform becomes unstable. When the culture can’t be accessed by its members, it can’t be enacted or managed. Whether or not this has an impact on the culture or is simply a fact of the cultureremains to be seen. As the culture gains more citizens though, I can see this becoming an important issue. Where sport media consumers depended on broadcasting to provide cultural stability, sports media stability through Twitter doesn’t seem to require the stability of the medium, especially for those who consume sport media on multiple platforms. As Twitter has become an important aspect of the sports media culture for some citizens, maybe their only source, stability may become the key to the platform’s ability to influence the culture on a long-term basis.Certainly, Twitter’s success revolves around its ability to be innovative and provide unique information. But most importantly, Twitter allows the citizens of this culture to participate by producing media (as in, “citizen media”), thereby contributing to the culture and enabling others to grow with as well. That’s because the producers are often super fanswho are highly motivated to produce quality content. Twitter also has an economic advantage in that it doesn’t require much funding to participate. Many already have the tools they need, and that makes it free. Most importantly, Twitter allows people to differentiate themselves as fans, and to offer counter narratives to the dominant storylines.Twitter’s open and interactive ability allows for an immediate critique of its culture and the cultures it enables, such as sport fandom. It doesn’t discriminate against content type, just spam, which is not engaging in any way. Again, just like the issue of server reliability, spammers are increasingly accepted as a “fact of Twitter culture” and their existence is reluctantly tolerated. The diversity in the types of fans using Twitter allows for coverage of stories and issues that may not make it on traditional broadcasts. It also allows its cultural citizens to engage reflexively with sport as a significant cultural institution in its own right.
So what does this mean in terms of frameworks? It certainly seems like live tweeting mostly enhances the ability for fans to become citizens of the digital sports fandom culture. And just as for live broadcasting, the quality of the citizen being engaged varies.I think cultural citizenship requires a performance of values and identities that are deemed to be necessary for belonging to that culture. So fans are actually performing their fan identities on Twitter, striving to meet the expectations of their fellow fans based on their own, self-identified, fan identification, levels. Traditionally, performing an identity is tied to the creation of meaning and self-identity. But Hall and others argue that it is the transmission of meanings through this enactment that actually constructs those meanings and identities. This understanding of identity enactment emphasizes the constructionist nature of society, since it is the repetition of performative acts of fandom that helps perpetuate existing power relationships in sport fandom. Goffman also relates to Twitter performance in the deliberate and conscious expressions of a tweet which contributes to a certainimage that others may have of that tweeter, perhaps as a fan of a particular team. It also relates to the seemingly unintentional expressions that a tweet gives off, whichare equally as importantly because they provides cues for others to determine what kind of fan lies behind the mediated self that’s actively presentedon Twitter. Live tweeting is an interactive performance, much like an improvisational skit, where the traditional rules of performance don’t apply due to the instantaneous nature of the interaction and the self-monitoring skills that are needed for tweeters to change their self-presentation on the fly. They might do this to fit in with their projected fan identity or to distance themselves from other types of fans. Since most live tweets are reactions to external stimuli, on the ice or from other tweeters, this type of interaction can create a heightened level of connection or discord between fans, and that’s what, in my opinion, leads to the development of fan communities online and offline, and sub-cultures that sometimes grow beyond a simple sport fandom relationship.These new sub-cultures are much more performative and often less dependant on the traditional, visible markers of identity.Social networking services therefore allow for new kinds of social relationships to emerge and those might cut across traditional citizenship lines. This, to me, is where the difference lies between citizenship in a live tweeting fan culture and citizenship in a live sports broadcasting culture. The change is in the way citizenship is performed.
Therefore, by following other tweeters and having them follow back, fans using Twitter are not just performing their fan identities, they are also creating them, WHILE at the same time creating, performing, shaping and adding to the live-tweeting experience, both within their small fan sub-culture, and also on a platform-wide understanding of fandom. They are situating themselves within that context and experience, as citizens of the live tweeting, sports fandom, culture.Still, the frameworks I used to examine live tweeting throughout this presentation are but a slightly updated version of Rowe’s conceptualization for live broadcasting in 2004. So the question remains, if we can use the same frameworks,what does that say about tweeting? In other words, how does live-tweeting fit in to the broader conversation on cultural citizenship in this context, and do the differences in this new, tweeting citizen grow the conversation in the same or different directions?I don’t have the answers to these questions, but I do think that to find them, we need to realise that this culture whose citizens we are trying to define is itself dynamic and evolving, and therefore its impact is tough to gauge. Certainly, Twitter as a sport consumption tool is still a budding concept, and one many have yet to embrace, as fans or as scholars. At this point, I don’t think we have the tools or experience we need to be able to ascertain whether new frameworks are indeed necessary to understand cultural citizenship in the context of live tweeting and digital NHL fandom.
Tweeting the Game: Is live-tweeting reshaping the NHL fandom experience
Tweeting the GameIs live-tweeting reshaping the NHL fandom experience? By Naila Jinnah MA Candidate, Queen’s University NASSS Conference, Minneapolis, MN, 2011
Issue Outline• How does live • Digital fandom & NHL tweeting address live • What is “live broadcasting issues tweeting” anyway? for NHL fans? • Cultural citizenship• Do we need new and fan performance frameworks to on Twitter understand cultural citizenship in this context? PeterRobertCasey.co m NASSS Conference, Minneapolis, MN, 2011
Digital Fandom 2.0• Globalisation = increased fan access• Twitter: immediate interactive multimedia tool• Connecting through #Hashtags• Cross-platform game-watching experience• Audience Producer• Sport as “simultaneously embodied and mediated experience.” (Hutchins & Mikosza, 2010) NASSS Conference, Minneapolis, MN, 2011
The NHL and Social Media• Most educated, tech savvy, youngest fans (Simmons Market Research)• New social media policy in the NHL• Teams, league employees and players are encouraged to have a Twitter presence• Used by fans, athletes, teams, reporters to: – BIRG, CORF, and discuss sport & specific game – Obtain and/or share information – Ask for/respond to interaction (replies, retweets) NASSS Conference, Minneapolis, MN, 2011
The Live-Tweeting Experience• Live-tweeting is posting regular updates related to a specific event (conference, game) – Often uses specific hashtags – Audience: other attendees, remote participants – In sport, often used by those who cannot watch or listen to game feed• Who belongs to this “live tweeting” culture?• How is this different than broadcasting and does it require new conceptual frameworks? NASSS Conference, Minneapolis, MN, 2011
Cultural Citizenship and Twitter• Twitter as a new form of “’instantaneous’ representation” of a culture, including its power inequalities.• Changes in audience demands (Rowe, 2004b): – Access to sporting texts/events – Stability and reliability – Innovation and quality – Cultural critique and diversity NASSS Conference, Minneapolis, MN, 2011
Broadcasting vs. Twitter• Access to sporting texts/events – Fewer barriers to entry ($, time, equipment)• Stability and reliability – Unstable during major breaking news events• Innovation and quality – “Citizen media” produced by highly engaged fans• Cultural critique and diversity – Immediate, ongoing critique of culture and coverage NASSM Conference, London, ON, 2011
Enacting Live Tweeting Culture• How do issues of cultural citizenship become enacted through live tweeting? – Varies by sports-fan identification levels – Identity performance – Impression management• Fans connect across traditional citizenship lines NASSS Conference, Minneapolis, MN, 2011
More to consider…• What is this culture whose citizens we’re trying to define? – Dynamic, still evolving culture• Twitter as sport consumption tool is still a budding concept NASSS Conference, Minneapolis, MN, 2011
Thoughts?Email me:firstname.lastname@example.org Thank you for your attention throughout my presentation! Tweet me:@nailajSee this presentation again:www.slideshare.net/nail aj NASSS Conference, Minneapolis, MN, 2011