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Social Media Use in the Queensland Floods (Eidos 2011)

Eidos 2011

Social Media Use in the Queensland Floods

Axel Bruns, Jean Burgess, Kate Crawford, and Frances Shaw

  • 4 Apr. 2011 – Eidos Institute “Social Media in Times of Crisis” symposium, Brisbane

Some More Presentations to Finish the Year

As 2010 draws to a close, its perhaps appropriate that my last couple of conference presentations for the year take a somewhat retrospective nature, summarising and reflecting on the 2010 Australian federal election, with a particular view on what we’ve learned about the state of Australian journalism in general and the role of Twitter in election coverage and debate in particular. I’ll present both those papers at different conferences in Sydney this Friday (26 November):

Slides for both those presentations are below, and I’ll try and add audio later both with audio.

Election 2010: The View from Twitter (InASA 2010)

InASA ‘Double Vision’ 2010

Election 2010: The View from Twitter

Axel Bruns

  • 26 Nov. 2010 – International Australian Studies Association ‘Double Vision’ conference, Sydney

Though it may not have had a substantial effect on the eventual outcome, Twitter was a highly visible component of the 2010 Australian election coverage. During the campaign, the #ausvotes hashtag alone generated over 400,000 tweets. This paper provides an overview of key trends in Twitter-based discussion of the Australian election.

Twitter as an Arena for Public Debate

The next speaker in our social media mapping panel at AoIR 2010 is Hallvard Moe, whose focus is on Twitter as an arena for public debate in Norway, around the data retention policy debate in that country. Norway is traditionally a social-democratic state with relatively advanced use of ICTs, apparently including some 160,000 Twitter users; this also meant that there was substantial debate about the adoption of the EU data retention directive (for regularly archiving phone and network data).

Hallvard archived tweets on the #dld hashtag using Twapperkeeper, between April and early August 2010, resulting in some 12,000 tweets (though not all relevant tweets in Norway may have used the #dld hashtag, of course). Activity on the topic was spread across the entire time period, at relatively low but persistent levels. There are a number of key peaks, especially around 9 May (the conservative party’s congress); tweets around that day anticipated party decisions as well as commenting on the day’s events.

Mapping Online Publics in Australia

My own paper (with Jean Burgess, Thomas Nicolai, and Lars Kirchhoff) starts the final session of this second day at AoIR 2010. Below is the Powerpoint, and I’ll try to add the audio some time soon the audio is online now, too.

NFL Players on Twitter

The next speaker at AoIR 2010 is Theo Plothe, whose interest is in the use of Twitter by NFL players in the US. The NFL is the most popular league in the US, and players are increasingly participating in it – presumably also encouraged by their employers. NBA player Charlie Villanueva, in fact, was reprimanded for tweeting during a basketball game. NFL players have also been fined, suspended, and fired for tweeting inappropriate comments – and in fact, player Ocho Cinco even orchestrated a post-touchdown celebration with fans via Twitter.

Predicting Tweet Sensitivity through Content Analysis

The next AoIR 2010 speaker is David Houghton, whose interest is also in Twitter. He starts by pointing to a range of tweets of varying degrees of mundaneness and secrecy, and is interested in examining linguistic differences in them. What threats to personal privacy result from the spread of gossip? How can levels of self-disclosure be measured – in breadth or depth, for example – in order to alert users to when they might be compromising themselves by oversharing?

How do we enable users to go about sharing while protecting their concerns and informing them about potential harms? David collected 250 random tweets from both Twitter and Secret Tweet (which collects tweets with sensitive information, it seems).

Spaces of Public Discourse on Twitter

I must admit I missed the 8.20 a.m. sessions this morning – just couldn’t cope with the cold. So, we’re jumping right into the next session at AoIR 2010, which starts with Axel Maireder. He begins by noting the function of Twitter as a medium for public discourse; tweets can reach large audiences especially if retweeted widely (an average of 1000 users for each retweet).

Twitter is used for debate on public issues, of course – and Axel’s study has identified a number of typical themes (education and professional, spare time, everyday life, social relations, mottos and aphorisms, politics and world affairs, media and culture, products and services). Twitter debate is also connected heavily with mainstream news media sources – URLs to mainstream content are widely distributed (and make up some 40% of distributed URLs). This means that Twitter users who distribute such content act as intermediaries between mass media content and their fellow users. Of those URLs, some 60% link to sources which advocate specific points of view.

#ausvotes Twitter Activity during the 2010 Australian Election

My own paper was next at ECREA 2010. Here’s the presentation – and I also recorded the audio for it, and will add it as soon as I can which is now attached to the slides. As it turned out, one of the other presenters in the session also broadcast the whole event to Justin.tvso go there to see it all in action (my presentation starts around 52 minutes in, and you can also see the other papers on our panel)…

Different Uses for Twitter Hashtags

The next speaker at ECREA 2010 is Jonathan Hickman, whose interest is in #hashtags on Twitter. Hashtags are a simple way for Twitter users to organise their conversations, by putting the ‘#’ symbol in front of words to make tweets on specific topics more easily searchable (e.g. #iranelection). The hashtag is a form of metadata in that it describes the content of the tweets. This is part of a wider practice of tagging in computer-mediated content; tags are widely used for a wide variety of online materials.

However, there are also problems with this, as these tags are user-generated (and thus examples of folksonomies), and may not necessarily be consistent; this conference, for example, can be found on Twitter under the hashtags #ECC10, #ECC2010, or #ECREA2010… In this, they are different from hierarchically coordinated taxonomies.


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