Lecture 5 blogs and twitter


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This is lecture 5 of a course on social media at the University of Winchester. This covers a brief overand history of blogs, microbloggs and Twitter, the public sphere and some of the research on # hastags and the consequences of using twitter.

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Lecture 5 blogs and twitter

  1. 1. Lecture 5 Blogs, Microbloggs and Twitter
  2. 2. Introduction  Aims:  Overview and history of blogs, microblogs and twitter  The public sphere and the impact of new technology.  #hashtag research – users tagging data (see folksonomy)
  3. 3. Blogs  Understood as a significant means of challenging repositioning the citizen in relation to power:  Blogs are part of a fundamental shift in how we communicate. Just a few decades ago, our media culture was dominated by a small number of media producers who distributed their publications and broadcasts to large, relatively passive audiences. Today, newspapers and television stations have to adapt to a new reality, where ordinary people create media and share their creations online. We have moved from a culture dominated by mass media, using one-to-many communication, to one where participatory media, using many-to-many communication, is becoming the norm. (Rettburg, 2008:31).
  4. 4. A blog is?  A blog is a type of website with details of events, commentary linked to this and user of still images, video and sound.  Events listed in reverse order with newest at the top.  Permits comments and often links to other blobs sites, news etc.  Often also include feeds from other blogs and can be syndicated to other blogs.
  5. 5. History  First ancestor is newsgroup mod.ber from 1983 (pre web, so not actually a blog).  1992 T.B.L. keep an internet diary about we developments.  Late 1990s lots of software emerges that permits blogging to occur.  Results in lessening of skill required to post online and massive growth of blogs.
  6. 6. How many?  A tricky question:  Active blogs - when is a blog active: once a week, month, year? Lots of orphans…   Different companies  2013 figures vary between 181 million and 800 million….
  7. 7. Microblogs & Tumblelogs  Emerge in late 2004 -2005.  Microblogs are a variant of a blog that consists on numerous small posts.  Some use standard blog platforms to do it but new platforms soon emerge – Tumblr 2007.  Considered by some as a form of „short broadcasting‟ because of the aggregation of other blogs.
  8. 8. Twitter  Based on use of SMS to reach many individuals.  Initially a phone text based service and was „in-house‟ at a company called Odeo – first tweet was “just setting up my twttr”.  Moved onto web with account.  Understood to be a mix of an SNS and a microblog.  Free to use but if used by txt message it will cost the txt price.
  9. 9. Growth  In 2007 there were 400,000 tweets sent per 3 month period.  2010 this was 65 million per day.  2011 140 million per day.  10-11 new twitter launched – allowed vids and pics to be seen in Twitter.  2012 340 million tweets per day.  2013 400 million tweets per day.  1 billion registered users (241 million monthly users).  Biggest country user – PRC 35 million.  75% access from handheld device.
  10. 10. The public sphere  A key theory in the power of new and social media.  Draws upon the work of the extremely influential German political-sociologist Jurgen Habermas.
  11. 11. The public sphere  Wrote a book in 1962 (trans. 1989) called:The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere: An Inquiry into a Category of Bourgeois Society.  Told a story…
  12. 12. 18th to 19th century  Until this point power had been in the hands of royalty and their chosen people the aristocracy.  But bits „broke off‟ the aristocracy and with newly rich merchants they formed a new class of people.  The Bourgeoisie.  This happened in a number of countries – UK, Germany, France
  13. 13. The Bourgeois Public Sphere  This social class communicated its shared interest through a range of media and „arena‟.  The pamphlet and the coffee house – people discussed the news of the day, politics and business information.  They facilitated the exchange of information between „equals‟ – what H. saw as something we should aspire to (he invented an idea of „discourse ethics‟ guidelines to facilitate proper deliberative communication).  It was very class and gender delimited – no working class or women.
  14. 14. Evolution and demise  Over time these arena evolved – the mass media emerged – newspapers then radio and television.  But these were not the public sphere in the old sense as they were dominated either by commercial interests or the interfering state.  The independent public sphere or space of discussion slowly disappeared…
  15. 15. Then the internet…  When the internet starts a number of commentators argued this was the rebirth of the public sphere.  The qualities of the internet would allow a new public sphere to emerge.  Then when social media and blogs started, the argument were repeated…
  16. 16. New media will… 1. Facilitate civic participation –  Passive public will become politically active and take part in debates about issues of import. 2. Challenge or revitalise existing journalistic practice:  Eye witnesses,  non mainstream stories,  challenge to the ethics of a story 3. Make politicians accountable – revitalise watchdog of media.  PR firms and spin has blunted the teeth of old media, blogs will be better. 4. Weaken old systems of power –  Voices from below will challenge cosy relationships.
  17. 17. But did it?  Most evidence sees only a partial actualisation of these points.  A bit naïve - not such a divide between mainstream media and alternative media – most journalists consider themselves mavericks.  Money and power impacts upon bloggers as it does others.  The public sphere is not a singular thing and is fragmented, as such it has not been revitalised and H, thinks the Internet cannot allow the PS as the internet is an „echo chamber of idiots‟ (my quote not H.).  Is all lost?
  18. 18. Hope is not yet dead…  Feminist theorists argued Habmermas was wrong about the public sphere anyway, it was never truly public anyway as it excluded women and non-gentry.  It prioritised „rationale‟ communications – which turned out to be a bit of a myth and based upon value judgement – “I am rationale – you are not” and inherently gender biased, devalues „emotional intelligence‟ which is just as important as rationality in settling disagreements.  Moreover, there were many public spheres and have been since then.
  19. 19. So? #  One area of particular interest on twitter is hash tags.  Comes from IRC (internet relay chat) where you could set up a public forum with a title #gameofthrones and people could come and join in.  Used on flickr to tag a photograph with a label.  An incredible consequential action…
  20. 20. #howitworks  Used on twitter to tag a tweet and make them available to people following the conversation but not the author.  Can search for a tag.  No limit on the number of hashtags that can be created or the purposes they are used for:  Coordination of emergency relief;  Memes and jokes;  Commenting on TV programmes  Seen as very „generative‟.
  21. 21. #sowhat?  # allow us to set our own channel.  To define a micro-public sphere on a particular topic.  By labelling data we can make channels or spheres out of the data.  Creation of millions of micro channels.  A seeming reversal of the traditional broadcast model.  We create the channel within the media.  Example of #folksonomy  People labelling data –
  22. 22. #are What we see emerging … is not simply a fragmented society composed of isolated individuals, but instead a patchwork of overlapping public spheres centred around specific themes and communities which through their overlap nonetheless form a network of issue publics that is able to act as an effective substitute for the conventional, universal public sphere of the mass media age; the remnants of that mass-mediated public sphere itself, indeed, remain as just one among many other such public spheres, if for the moment continuing to be located in a particularly central position within the overall network. (Bruns , 2008: 69)
  23. 23. # as „ad hoc‟ or temporary public spheres  The use of # creates a temporary community around a topic and allows for deliberation (if it warrants it).  Thus H.‟s idea of the public sphere becomes one of a temporary nature into which we move and exit (as we tweet and read).  We continually move in and out of them as we partake in different discussions.
  24. 24. Twitter is public  # add a public dimension to what our communications.  Lifts communication out of the „local‟ and into the „global‟.  Sometimes this is not understood by people…  EG – caution this may cause offense – please leave if you do not wish to see.
  25. 25.  Bruns, Axel. (2008) “Life beyond the Public Sphere: Towards a Networked Model for Political Deliberation.” Information Polity 13(1-2): 65-79.