New Methodologies for Researching News Discussion on Twitter


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Paper presented at the Future of Journalism conference, Cardiff, 8 Sep. 2011.

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New Methodologies for Researching News Discussion on Twitter

  1. 1. New Methodologies for Researching News Discussion on Twitter<br />Axel Bruns and Jean Burgess<br />ARC Centre of Excellence for Creative Industries and Innovation<br />Queensland University of Technology<br />Brisbane, Australia<br />a.bruns /<br />@snurb_dot_info / @jeanburgess<br /><br />
  2. 2. Why Twitter?<br />Researching news discussion on Twitter:<br />Significant world-wide social network<br />~200 million users (but how many active?)<br />Varied range of uses: from phatic communication to emergency coordination<br />Flat and open network structure: non-reciprocal following, public profiles by default<br />Commonly used in the coverage and discussion of breaking news events and ongoing stories<br />Good API for data journalism<br />
  3. 3. Twitter and the News<br />Key news-related uses of Twitter:<br />First-hand news reports:<br />Emergency landing in the Hudson; Abbottabad raid; storms, earthquakes, tsunamis<br />Continuing news discussion:<br />Information sharing (gatewatching); commentary; story curation through hashtags<br />‘Ambient’ news coverage (Hermida; Burns):<br />Early indicator of breaking stories; trending topics, themes, URLs, etc.<br /> Tool for sourcing, tracking, finding stories<br />
  4. 4. #hashtags on Twitter<br />Hashtag =‘#’ + alphanumeric characters: <br />Automatic tracking & aggregation of a topic, represented with a hyperlink<br />Originally a (lead) user innovation, later integrated into platform<br />Simple, adaptive and generative<br />Can coordinate, render visible, and constitute publics<br />
  5. 5. #hashtag Publics<br />Publics: <br />Attend to matters of shared concern with some level of co-awareness<br />Varied in intensity and temporality<br />Emergent, constituted via discourse & affect <br />#hashtag publics:<br />Not all hashtags constitute publics; Twitter doesn’t ‘contain’ publics<br />What are the various patterns in the dynamics of different hashtag-based publics?<br />What might account for these differences?<br />
  6. 6. Data Gathering<br />yourTwapperkeeper: API-based data capture<br />Data Processing<br />Gawk – open source, multiplatform, programmable command-line tool for processing CSV documents<br />Textual Analysis<br />Leximancer – commercial (University of Queensland), multiplatform: extracts key concepts from large corpora of text, examines and visualises concept co-occurrence<br />WordStat – commercial, PC-only text analysis tool; generates concept co-occurrence data that can be exported for visualisation<br />Visualisation<br />Gephi – open source, multiplatform network visualisation tool<br />Tools for Researching Twitter<br />
  7. 7. #ausvotes (July-Aug. 2010)<br />
  8. 8. #royalwedding (29 Apr. 2011)<br />
  9. 9. #eqnz (Feb./Mar. 2011)<br />
  10. 10. #qldfloods: @QPSmedia (Jan. 2011)<br />
  11. 11. #ausvotes: Leaders<br />
  12. 12. #ausvotes: Themes<br />
  13. 13. #spill (23 June 2010)<br />
  14. 14. #GoBackSBS (June/July 2011)<br />
  15. 15. Comparative Metrics<br />
  16. 16. #hashtags in Context?<br />Follower/followee network:~150,000 Australian Twitter users(of ~550,000 known accounts so far) colour = outdegree, size = indegree<br />
  17. 17. Data Journalism (Research) beyond Twitter<br />Data journalism is a growing field<br />Data journalism research necessary to inform both journalism theory and practice<br />Twitter is a key news space now, and needs to be further researched<br />Other social media may come to replace it, but many methods will remain similar<br />Potential to generate new insights well beyond journalism itself: popular sentiment and interests, communication, culture, …<br />Many tools available, but more methods work necessary!<br />
  18. 18.<br />@snurb_dot_info<br />@jeanburgess<br />