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New Media and Public Communication (ARC Discovery)

New Media and Public Communication: Mapping Australian User-Created Content in Online Social Networks

Understanding the ways people contribute to and use the Internet for a wide range of purposes is important to Australia's future from both a social and an economic perspective. Effective, evidence-based policy depends on developing a vastly improved understanding of the current level of Australians' online activities and interests. This project provides crucial, detailed baseline data on the social, cultural and technological dynamics of Australian online public communication, which can inform further government initiatives to strengthen the country's digital economy and to maximise civic engagement through media participation.

ARC Discover Project, 2010-2012

Presenting Our Social Media Work at the 2013 IBM Research Colloquium

Now that I’m back in Australia from my extended conference trip, I immediately got back on a plane to travel to a freezing Melbourne, to present our social media research in crisis communication and beyond at the 2013 IBM Research Colloquium. Below are my slides and audio – many thanks again to Jennifer Lai and her team at IBM Research Australia for the invitation!

Social Media Issue Publics in Australia (IBM Research Colloquium 2013)

IBM Research Colloquium 2013

Social Media Issue Publics in Australia

Axel Bruns

When important news breaks, social media facilitate the rapid formation of issue publics which come together to 'work the story' of the unfolding event. This is especially evident in the context of natural disasters and other crises. The close study of social media feeds during such crisis provides a valuable insight into the dynamics of the event, with participants acting as human sensors for new information and current trends. This paper outlines the crisis communication research conducted at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Creative Industries and Innovation at Queensland University of Technology, and outlines the need for further background research into the longer-term development of social media platforms.

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:

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


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.

Some Recent and Upcoming Work

When this site goes quiet, it’s usually because work is exceptionally busy. My apologies for the long silence since the launch of our major collection A Companion to New Media Dynamics – a range of projects, variously relating to the uses of social media in crisis communication, of Twitter in a number of national elections, of social media as a second-screen backchannel to televised events, and of ‘big data’ in researching online issue publics, have kept me occupied for the past eight months or so.

Now, I’m about to head off to Denver for the annual Association of Internet Researchers conference and on to a number of other events, and you can expect the usual bout of live blogging from these conferences – but before I do so, here’s a quick update of some of the major publications and papers I’ve completed during the past few months. For some more frequent updates on the work of my colleagues and me, you can also follow our updates at Mapping Online Publics and the site of the QUT Social Media Research Group, of course. On the SMRG site, we’ve also posted a list of the presentations we’ll be making at AoIR and beyond – hope to see you there!


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