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Uses of Twitter during Major Events

Finally in this ICA 2010 session we move to Yvette Wohn, talking about how people tweet about TV. When TV was first introduced, it was seen as a social medium, as families gathered around it to watch; later, it was seen as creating a social gap, as enabling people to disengage from reality, as increasing individualism, and (when multiple TVs in the same home became more commonplace) as fragmenting families.

Today, people watch more TV than ever - now also online, on mobiles, and on timeshift devices. At the same time, TV use may be becoming more social again - echoing some of the early commercial attempts to introduce greater immediate social dimensions for television by adding a (telephone, online, ...) social backchannel to the television set or media device: today, it is social media that are adding that backchannel.

The study examined the use of Twitter to comment on major TV events - the Obama Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech and the final of So You Think You Can Dance. Over 1,000 tweets from before, during, and after these programmes were collected and examined for the content types, the use of undirected and directed (e.g. @snurb_dot_info) messages, and the use of hashtags.

Messages were coded as subjective or objective, as about oneself or about the programme - creating the four possible combinations of emotion (subjective, oneself), attention (objective, oneself), information (objective, programme, and opinion (subjective, programme). Objective messages were less prevalent for both programmes; Obama-related messages were most strongly opinion, the SYTYCD messages were both emotion and opinion.

Over time, there was a similar flow of peaks and troughs in messaging for all types except for information messages. Obviously, this is also related to the content of the programmes - though again less for information than for the other messages. There were only around 25% directed messages all up.

Good session - worth getting up for!

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