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Infotainment and the Impact of Connective Action: The Case of #MilkedDry


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Paper by Stephen Harrington, Axel Bruns, and Tim Highfield, presented at the ANZCA 2017 conference, Sydney, 5-7 July 2017.

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Infotainment and the Impact of Connective Action: The Case of #MilkedDry

  1. 1. Infotainment and the Impact of ‘Connective Action’: The Case of #MilkedDry Stephen Harrington, Axel Bruns, and Tim Highfield Digital Media Research Centre Queensland University of Technology s.harrington / a.bruns / t.highfield @
  2. 2.
  3. 3. The Project (2009 - Present)
  4. 4. The Impact of Infotainment • Typically seen as ‘fluffy’ and apolitical • Lack of objectivity norm (often) grants a license to be more strident in political statements • Debates over its role in stimulating political action, versus nihilism, apathy, and disconnection from the political system (E.g. Hart and Hartelius, 2007)
  5. 5. #milkeddry Campaign
  6. 6. ‘Connective Action’ Bennett and Segerberg, 2012 “The more familiar action logic is the logic of collective action, which emphasizes the problems of getting individuals to contribute to the collective endeavor that typically involves seeking some sort of public good (e.g. democratic reforms) that may be better attained through forging a common cause… (p. 749)
  7. 7. ‘Connective Action’ “In this view, formal organizations with resources are essential to harnessing and coordinating individuals in common action.” (p.750, emphasis added)
  8. 8. ‘Connective Action’ “When people who seek more personalized paths to concerted action are familiar with practices of social networking in everyday life, and when they have access to technologies from mobile phones to computers, they are already familiar with a different logic of organization: the logic of connective action….
  9. 9. ‘Connective Action’ “At the core of this logic is the recognition of digital media as organizing agents… participation becomes self-motivating as personally expressive content is shared with, and recognized by, others who, in turn, repeat these networked sharing activities…. In this connective logic, taking public action or contributing to a common good becomes an act of personal expression and recognition or self-validation achieved by sharing ideas and actions in trusted relationships.” (p. 752-753)
  10. 10. #milkeddry Dataset • Data gathering: – TrISMA: comprehensive, continuous tracking of public tweets by ~3.7m Australian accounts – Filtered for milkeddry / theprojecttv / agchatoz  ~14,390 tweets identified – Identification of accounts posting, accounts @mentioned/retweeted, hashtags used, URLs shared
  11. 11. Tweets per Hour
  12. 12. Hashtags and Keywords
  13. 13. Images
  14. 14. theprojecttv agchatozindiblu barnaby_joyce gorgicoghlan pjhelliar bickmorecarrie terryaustralis twhittyer abcrural milkmaidmarian greghunt Tweeting and @mentioned accounts in dataset Accounts with degree <2 removed Visualisation via Gephi: Force Atlas 2, LinLog mode Node sizes: indegree; node colour: weighted degree
  15. 15. #milkeddry: a failure? • Not an awful lot of evidence that the #milkeddry hashtag was used extensively • Conversation died down within a few days of the initial segment airing • More ‘collective action’ logic than ‘connective action’ • But, other evidence that the segment helped put the issue on the public radar…
  16. 16. Conclusion • Evidence of meaningful ‘action’ remains elusive • Perhaps a social media success, but not necessarily on Twitter • Questions around the role of a central organising agent in the campaign, and potential for ‘connective action’ • But, other evidence suggests the campaign had considerable impact.
  17. 17. @_StephenH @snurb_dot_info @timhighfield @socialmediaQUT – @qutdmrc – This research is funded by the Australian Research Council through Future Fellowship and LIEF grants FT130100703 and LE140100148.