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Layers of Communication: Forms of Talk on Twitter (Media Talk 2014)

Media Talk Symposium 2014

Layers of Communication: Forms of Talk on Twitter

Axel Bruns

  • 24 Apr. 2014 – Media Talk Symposium, Brisbane

With some 2.5 million accounts, especially representing the influential 25-55 age range, Twitter has become an important social media platform in Australia. It has found key applications in areas ranging from politics and crisis communication to entertainment and sports, but also facilitates everyday communication between like-minded individuals and communities. In spite of the increased scholarly attention on the uses of Twitter across these practices, however, the question of what kind(s) of communication Twitter represents remains largely underexplored, and the forms of interaction that the platform enables have yet to be fully theorised.

Building on prior work by Bruns & Moe (2014), this paper explores the various layers of communication which exist on Twitter, from direct, dyadic @reply exchanges between clearly identified communication partners at the micro level through narrowcast message dissemination to the followers of an account at the meso level to many-to-many exchanges in ad hoc publics created by hashtags at the macro level. It outlines the different types and formats of talk which are able to occur at each of these levels, and shows the interweaving of the information and communication flows which take place on each of them. In doing so, it outlines the complexities of communication on Twitter, and points to new challenges in Twitter research.

References:

Axel Bruns and Hallvard Moe. (2014). β€œStructural Layers of Communication on Twitter.” In Twitter and Society, eds. Katrin Weller, Axel Bruns, Jean Burgess, Merja Mahrt, and Cornelius Puschmann. New York: Peter Lang, 2014. 15-28.