We’re already deep into February 2017, but I thought I’d finally put together an overview of what I’ve been up to during the past year, at least as far as research outputs are concerned. It’s been a busy year by any measure, with a number of key projects coming to completion; research publications from some of these are still in production, but here’s what’s already come out.
Axel Bruns, Gunn Enli, Eli Skogerbø, Anders Olof Larsson, and Christian Christensen, eds. The Routledge Companion to Social Media and Politics. New York: Routledge, 2016.
The year began with the release of a major Routledge Companion that I co-edited with my colleagues in the “Social Media and Election Campaigns” project led by the University of Oslo. In this collection we worked hard to provide as much breadth and depth in our coverage of recent political uses of social media as we possibly could, and we ended up with contributions covering political campaigns and movements on all continents except Antarctica, involving a total of some 60 scholars. There’s also a strong section that collects some recent and emerging theoretical perspectives. In addition to the introduction, I also contributed to three substantive chapters in the Companion:
Axel Bruns, Gunn Enli, Eli Skogerbø, Anders Olof Larsson, and Christian Christensen. “Introduction.” The Routledge Companion to Social Media and Politics, eds. Axel Bruns, Gunn Enli, Eli Skogerbø, Anders Olof Larsson, and Christian Christensen. New York: Routledge, 2016. 1-3.
Axel Bruns and Tim Highfield. “Is Habermas on Twitter? Social Media and the Public Sphere.” The Routledge Companion to Social Media and Politics, eds. Axel Bruns, Gunn Enli, Eli Skogerbø, Anders Olof Larsson, and Christian Christensen. New York: Routledge, 2016. 56-73.
Eli Skogerbø, Axel Bruns, Andrew Quodling, and Thomas Ingebretsen. “Agenda-Setting Revisited: Social Media and Sourcing in Mainstream Journalism.” The Routledge Companion to Social Media and Politics, eds. Axel Bruns, Gunn Enli, Eli Skogerbø, Anders Olof Larsson, and Christian Christensen. New York: Routledge, 2016. 104-120.
Tim Highfield and Axel Bruns. “Compulsory Voting, Encouraged Tweeting? Australian Elections and Social Media.” The Routledge Companion to Social Media and Politics, eds. Axel Bruns, Gunn Enli, Eli Skogerbø, Anders Olof Larsson, and Christian Christensen. New York: Routledge, 2016. 338-350.
There were a handful of other publications related to social media and politics that came out in 2016, even though they dealt with events much further in the past. Published online first in 2016, and now properly in Media International Australia issue 162 (2017), I covered the use of social media in the 2013 Australian federal election campaign (and I’m hoping to put together a companion piece for the subsequent federal election in 2016 soon):
Axel Bruns. “Tweeting to Save the Furniture: The 2013 Australian Election Campaign on Twitter.” Media International Australia 162 (2017): 49-64. DOI: 10.1177/1329878X16669001.
Also (finally) coming out was an article on Twitter in the 2012 U.S. election – that innocent time when the worst outcome of the election might have been unemployment for Big Bird, rather than the all-out attacks by one branch of government on another:
Axel Bruns and Tim Highfield. "May the Best Tweeter Win: The Twitter Strategies of Key Campaign Accounts in the 2012 US Election." In Die US-Präsidentschaftswahl 2012: Analysen der Politik- und Kommunikationswissenschaft, eds. Christoph Bieber and Klaus Kamps. Wiesbaden: Springer Fachmedien, 2016. 425-42.
Having spent a considerable amount of time over recent years on the development of social media research methods, 2016 also saw a substantial shift in my research direction, back to the study of journalism in a rapidly changing informational environment while remaining informed by the social media analytics data now available to us. A major monograph relating to this work – a sequel of sorts to my 2005 book Gatewatching: Collaborative Online News Production – is currently on production and will be out later in 2017, but a handful of preliminary articles covering my current research in this area have been published in recent collections:
Axel Bruns. “‘Random Acts of Journalism’ Redux: News and Social Media.” In Jakob Linaa Jensen, Mette Mortensen, and Jacob Ørmen, eds., News Across Media: Production, Distribution and Consumption. London: Routledge, 2016. 32-47.
Axel Bruns. “Making Audience Engagement Visible: Publics for Journalism on Social Media Platforms.” In Bob Franklin and Scott A. Eldridge II, eds., The Routledge Companion to Digital Journalism Studies. London: Routledge, 2017. 325-334.
With my QUT colleagues Folker Hanusch and Brian McNair I’ve also begun work on a major new research project that explores the forms of, practices in, and audience responses to “Journalism beyond the Crisis”, and a first journal article from that work has now been published in Digital Journalism:
Folker Hanusch and Axel Bruns. “Journalistic Branding on Twitter: A Representative Study of Australian Journalists’ Profile Descriptions.” Digital Journalism 5.1 (2017): 26-43.
In spite of my return to a greater focus on journalism and the news, I’m not moving away entirely from broader engagement with social media, of course; rather, my work on journalism also applies the new social media theories and methods we’ve developed over the past few years to this field as an object of study. There has also been a steady flow of new conceptual and methodological work on social media as such during 2016, therefore.
The first of these is a statement I’ve been meaning to make for some time already – and my collaboration with Katrin Weller ahead of the Web Science conference in Hannover in May finally provided me with an opportunity to do so. Here, we show how real-time social media platforms like Twitter now serve as “a first draft of the present” – and point out that it is becoming increasingly important to find ways of archiving and preserving this material for posterity, ideally in a way that also preserves the full context of the social media experience:
Axel Bruns and Katrin Weller. “Twitter as a First Draft of the Present — and the Challenges of Preserving It for the Future.” In Wolfgang Nejdl, Wendy Hall, Paolo Parigi, Steffen Staab, eds., Proceedings of the 8th ACM Conference on Web Science (WebSci '16). New York: ACM, 2016. 183-189. DOI: 10.1145/2908131.2908174.
Further, my QUT colleagues and I have also continued to work on our development of social media research methods, on establishing some reasonably universal metrics for user activities on Twitter, and on our critical evaluation of available social media analytics methods:
Axel Bruns, Brenda Moon, Avijit Paul, and Felix Münch. “Towards a Typology of Hashtag Publics: A Large-Scale Comparative Study of User Engagement across Trending Topics.” Communication Research and Practice 2.1 (2016): 20-46.
Axel Bruns and Jean Burgess. “Methodological Innovation in Precarious Spaces: The Case of Twitter.” In Digital Methods for Social Science: An Interdisciplinary Guide to Research Innovation, eds. Helene Snee, Christine Hine, Yvette Morey, Steven Roberts, and Hayley Watson. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2016.
The crisis communication research that my colleagues engaged in in the aftermath of the series of major natural disasters in 2011 and subsequent years is not a major focus of my current research, but some more work in this field continues to come out still. Here’s a more conceptual piece on the different models for incorporating social media into disaster management frameworks that are apparent in emergency management organisations:
Amisha M. Mehta, Axel Bruns, and Judith Newton. “Trust, But Verify: Social Media Models for Disaster Management.” Disasters, 22 Sep. 2016. DOI: 10.1111/disa.12218.
Finally, from time to time I’m also asked to contribute encycloaedia entries on various topics related to my research. This is often a daunting task as it’s difficult to comprehensively cover entire concepts and fields of research in just a small number of words, and I’ve declined a number of such invitations when I didn’t feel comfortable covering the topics. Here, though, are four assignments I did accept recently:
Axel Bruns. “Real-Time Applications (Twitter).” Encyclopaedia entry. In Heidrun Friese, Gala Rebane, Marcus Nolden, and Miriam Schreiter, eds., Handbuch Soziale Praktiken und Digitale Alltagswelten. Wiesbaden: Springer Fachmedien, 2016. DOI: 10.1007/978-3-658-08460-8_8-1.
Axel Bruns. “Peer-to-Peer Interaction”, “Prosumption, Produsage”, and “User-Generated Content”. Encyclopaedia entries. In Klaus Bruhn Jensen, Robert T. Craig, Jefferson D. Pooley, and Eric W. Rothenbuhler, The International Encyclopedia of Communication Theory and Philosophy. London: Wiley, 2016.
And that’s (almost) it for 2016. There were also a number of conference presentations, which you’ll find over on the page for conference papers and other talks, and no doubt a handful more of my 2016 writings will trickle out over the coming months with 2017 datestamps. One edited collection, nine book chapters, four journal articles, one full conference paper, and four encyclopaedia entries – it’s been a busy year… On to 2017 then!