You are here

Trends in the Transformation of Electoral Processes

I'm spending the next couple of days in Sydney at the Australia-New Zealand Workshop on Campaign Management and Political Marketing, where I'm presenting a paper on the use of Twitter during the 2013 Australian federal election tomorrow. But we start today with an introduction by John Keane, who is reflecting on the history of elections during the post-war period.

He suggests that there are a number of big trends in this period. First, the electoral revolution: a huge increase in the number of countries which practice elections. Second, even despotic regimes use elections to legitimise themselves. Third, elections have been indigenised: the electoral process is being adjusted to take into account local traditions, from feeding the poor to driving away evil spirits.

Facepager: A Tool for Gathering Facebook Data

The final panel at Digital Methods in Vienna is on Web monitoring, and starts with a paper by Jakob Jünger on Facepager, a tool for gathering data from Facebook. Such data could be scraped directly from the Web pages, or retrieved through the API; Facepager takes the second route, which has specific implications for the kind of data which are available for it.

For example, popular Facebook pages show a general estimate of how many likes they've received (e.g. "700k"), while the API returns an exact number; this needs to be considered in any analysis which examines the actual user experience, of course.

Reaching for the Higher-Hanging Fruit in Twitter Research

The next paper at the "Compromised Data" symposium is by Jean Burgess and me, and explores the more difficult forms of 'big data' research we're rarely conducting at present because the political economy of data access is weighted against specific approaches - in the specific context of Twitter research. I'll upload the slides and audio for it as soon as possible - for now, consider this a placeholder! Slides and audio below:

#aufschrei: Germany's First Major Twitter Debate

The final presentation in our AoIR 2013 panel is Stine Eckert, whose focus is on the #aufschrei hashtag in the German-language Twittersphere that reacted to the issue of sexual harassment, in January 2013. It was prompted by a number of mainstream media articles about sexism and sexual harassment, from a prominent German politician as well as in other public spaces; as more such examples came to light, the Twitter hashtag #aufschrei was suggested as a means to compile and curate such stories! continuing over several days. The hashtag itself received further mainstream media attention.

How did the #aufschrei debate evolve, then, what links were being shared, and what format did the tweets take? Stine coded some 9,000 #aufschrei tweets, especially finding tweets about the debate, tweets supporting the women reporting these cases, and tweets moving the discussion into other, sometimes off-topic areas as key categories of tweet topics. Tweets about the debate often engaged in meta-discussion about the #aufschrei phenomenon itself, while support tweets expressed their sympathy with the stories shared; at the same time, there were also some misogynist statements, jokes, and other types of responses. Overall, some 44% engaged in debate, media, and political discussion; 33% offered examples and support; 23% contained misogynistic statements and jokes.

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.

Making Sense of Anonymous's Hacker Trickery

Back from my visit to Project EPIC in Boulder, and right to the opening keynote of the 2013 Association of Internet Researchers conference. The keynote speaker is Gabriella Coleman, whose focus is on cyberactivism. Computer hacking has taken an increasingly prominent role in society in recent years - hackers have engaged in disrupting communication through DDoS attacks as well as in increasing transparency through leaking information.

But what are hackers? Some programme software, some develop hardware; some promote transparency (e.g. through the free software movement), some operate from the anonymous underground. Put simply, hacking is where craft and craftiness converge, Gabriella says - often with a great deal of humour and subversion. Hackers are quintessential craftsmen (men, most often); they enjoy the performance of circumventing the rules by using the weapons of the geek.

Social Media Crisis Communication in Australia

My own presentation at the Project EPIC symposium was next, outlining the Australian perspective on the uses of social media in crisis communication. Powerpoint and audio below:

Social Media in Times of Crisis: The Australian Perspective from Axel Bruns

Mobile Technologies of Social Mediation

It's Wednesday, probably, and I've arrived in Colorado for the 2013 Association of Internet Researchers conference in Denver. Today, though, I've made my way to Boulder to meet with the fabulous Project EPIC research group around Leysia Palen, who have done a great deal of leading-edge research into the use of social media in crisis communication.


Subscribe to Snurblog RSS