How Partisan and Polarised Is #auspol?

This AoIR 2013 also contains a paper by Theresa Sauter and me, on the tone of debate in the #auspol hashtag for the discussion of Australian politics. Here are the slides - audio to follow now online as well...

Exploring Emotions on #auspol: Polarity and Public Performance in the Twitter Debate on Australian Politics from Axel Bruns


Symbolic Violence in the Brazilian Facebook Community

The next panellist at AoIR 2013 is Raquel Recuero, whose interest is in symbolic violence in online spaces: violence which emerges from words, from discourse (and which is therefore caught up with humour and stigma). Networked publics, in which such violence circulates, are persistent and replicable.

When Wikipedians Go Wrong

The final day at AoIR 2013 starts for me with a panel on conflict, controversy and aggression in online spaces in which Theresa Sauter and I also have a paper - but the first presenter is Heather Ford, whose focus is on Wikipedia. She has been involved with Wikipedia for some time, and has seen a substantial level of conflict (leading to article deletions and user bannings) during that time. Her paper here focusses on the specific case of a Wikipedian being stalked and banned.

Being a Wikipedian means being part of a peer-production community, which Benkler and Nissenbaum have claimed fosters virtue. But more recent research has exposed some of the darker sides of Wikipedia - as experienced especially to newcomers to the community. Entering the now-mature project at a late stage is difficult, and many contributions from newbie users are reverted by established participants; this has been seen as contribution to Wikipedia's decline and the slow-down of new user sign-ups.

Critical Questions for Research into the Uses of Social Media in Crisis Communication

The third speaker on our AoIR 2013 crisis communication panel is Megan Finn. She begins by noting that the US Geological Survey is now using Twitter data to detect earthquakes - but more generally, there are also limits to the use of Twitter and other social media data, as not all groups in society are equally represented in such data, and in social media as such.

A disaster is traditionally defined as an event, concentrated in time and space, in which society undergoes severe data and essential functions of society are interrupted. But the components of this definition are problematic - a crisis is more a reflection of the ability or otherwise of the socioeconomic system to cope with unusual conditions in a current situation, and this needs to be better recognised; for one, the recovery period also emerges as an important point of focus here.

Social Media in the Mexican Drug Wars

The next speaker in our AoIR 2013 panel on crisis communication is Andres Monroy-Hernandes, who focusses on emergency responses in the current Mexican drug war. Traditionally, emergency information has been disseminated by government officials and the media, but this is not necessarily the case in Mexico, due to the scale of civil disorder in the country: journalists and government organisations in northern Mexico are essentially operating under a self-imposed news blackout due to the pressure they feel from the druglords.

Instead, social media are increasingly adopted for information: citizens in lawless areas are warning each other of "risky situations" (shootings, bombs, etc.), with hashtags like #mtyfollow emerging as the mechanisms to collate such warnings. A kind of "narco language" is also emerging - for example for kidnappings, dead bodies, etc. - and the occurrence of such language is correlated with the murder rate in specific areas, and with the magnitude of specific events.

The Changing Shape of Emergency Responses

The next panel at AoIR 2013 is on crisis communication, and we have a paper in this one, too... We start, however, with Leysia Palen from the fabulous Project EPIC in Boulder, who begins with a general overview. Disasters are disruptive, unpredicted events which mean that normal daily routines cannot continue; emergencies become disasters when they overtax available local resources.

One aspect of disasters is mass convergence: a slower-motion convergence of people either in local locations or in spaces immediately outside the disaster zone - including affected residents, support staff, and curious onlookers. These groups are often organised around available items of information about the disaster.

How Twitter Covered Lance Armstrong's Downfall

The final speaker in this AoIR 2013 panel is Tim Highfield, whose focus is on the doping scandal surrounding Lance Armstrong between August 2013 and January 2013, from USADA stripping Armstrong of his titles to his confession interview with Oprah. This draws on a number of different datasets, including tweets mentioning @lancearmstrong during the 2012 Tour de France as well as tweets mentioning 'Armstrong' in subsequent months.

During the 2012 Tour, reports emerged that several riders had testified against Armstrong, generating substantial discussion with the Tour de France Twitter community as an extension of the fan/athlete para social interaction - with fans making both critical and supportive statements towards Armstrong. Subsequent spikes in activity surround Armstrong's stepping down from the Livestrong foundation and the Oprah interviews.

Framing the Pistorius Case on Twitter

The second presenter in our AoIR 2013 celebrity crisis panel is Ana Vimieiro, whose focus is on the crisis around Oscar Pistorius following the death of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp. Ana's approach in this is to use frame analysis to explore how the crisis is being conceptualised by the users discussing it on Twitter.

There are various approaches to frame analysis: holistic variable coding, a textual focus on terms and expressions (which ultimately focusses on topics more than frames), and data reduction techniques which draw on clustering approaches. Ana is employing the latter model, coding the text for less subjective categories including sources, causes, solutions, consequences, metaphors, slogans, examples, and moral judgments.

Tweeting at the Pope(s)

The post-lunch session at AoIR 2013 starts with a panel on celebrity crises, which has now become a QUT-only affair. We're starting with a paper by Theresa Sauter and me, on the Pope's @pontifex account. (Slides and audio are below.) Celebrity accounts in general are one of the big drivers of Twitter activity, as Twitter itself positions them. The @pontifex account was set up in December 2012 by Benedict XVI, with nine different language accounts set up, including one in Latin.

#Pontiff-Ex: The Twitter Community’s Reaction to the Papal Resignation from Axel Bruns

We tracked the English-language account, which had gathered 1.6 million followers by the time Benedict XVI resigned. He'd mainly posted brief prayer-style messages, coordinated across all languages, and the new pope Francis has done much the same since then. This is perhaps unsurprising given the status of the Pope.


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