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Four New Chapters on the Challenges of Doing Twitter Research

One more post before I head home from the AoIR 2015 conference in Phoenix: during the conference, I also received my author’s copy of Hashtag Publics, an excellent new collection edited by Nathan Rambukkana. In this collection, Jean Burgess and I published an updated version of our paper from the ECPR conference in Reykjavík, which conceptualises (some) hashtag communities as ad hoc publics – and Theresa Sauter and I also have a chapter in the book that explores the #auspol hashtag for Australian politics.

Axel Bruns and Jean Burgess. “Twitter Hashtags from Ad Hoc to Calculated Publics.” In Hashtag Publics: The Power and Politics of Discursive Networks, ed. Nathan Rambukkana. New York: Peter Lang, 2015. 13-28.

Theresa Sauter and Axel Bruns. “#auspol: The Hashtag as Community, Event, and Material Object for Engaging with Australian Politics.” In Hashtag Publics: The Power and Politics of Discursive Networks, ed. Nathan Rambukkana. New York: Peter Lang, 2015. 47-60.

The Changing Features of Communication on Twitter

Up next in this AoIR 2015 session is Sava Saheli Singh, whose focus is on subverting social media. Our use of such social media, such as Twitter, is shaped by the biases built-in by the people who design these spaces; and these have changed over time. Users reinterpret and repurpose the features of social media spaces, so there is a constant struggle between platform providers and users.

Easy Data, Hard Data, Compromised Data

My QUT DMRC colleague Jean Burgess and I are next at AoIR 2015, presenting the core points from our chapter "Easy Data, Hard Data" in the Compromised Data collection. (The slides are below.) The chapter thinks through the pragmatics and politics of being social media researchers in a complex and precarious environment, and thus builds on David Berry's work on the computational turn in humanities and social science research.

Social Media in Australian Elections through the Years

The next AoIR 2015 paper is by Tim Highfield and me, and I'll add I've added our presentation slides below as soon as I can. The paper will also be a chapter in the forthcoming Routledge Companion to Social Media and Politics, which my colleagues Gunn Enli, Eli Skogerbø, Anders Larsson, Christian Christensen and I have edited – and which will appear in early 2016.

Social Media and Elections in Sweden since 2010

The post-lunch session at AoIR 2015 is a panel on social media and elections that my colleague Tim Highfield and I are contributing to, but we begin with the excellent Anders Olof Larsson, whose focus is on recent Swedish elections. Sweden traditionally has a high level of election participation and substantial Internet and social media access, and social media have become increasingly visible in election campaigns, unsurprisingly this has increased over time.

The Problems with Gathering Data from Weibo

The second speaker on this AoIR 2015 session is QUT DMRC PhD researcher Jing Zeng, whose focus is on the challenges associated with accessing data from popular Chinese social media platform Weibo. Weibo, meaning 'micro-blog' in Chinese, is a Chinese take on social media services such as Twitter. Sina Weibo is now the most successful of such services in China, with several hundred million users now present on the site.

Theorising Twitter Block Bots

The final speaker in this AoIR 2015 session is Stuart Geiger, whose interest is in the collective block lists on Twitter that are developed by anti-harassment communities. This bypasses or sits alongside Twitter's own, 'official' anti-harassment (and anti-spam, etc.) efforts.

Tweeting Styles of Candidate Accounts in US Gubernatorial Contests

The next speaker at AoIR 2015 is Sikana Tanupabrungsun, whose focus is on the use of Twitter by gubernatorial candidates in 36 state elections across the United States in 2014. The focus here is on @mentioning between candidates, and the analysis was conducted using automated content analysis approaches. This found that the most frequent mode of address was to attack other candidates.

What Twitter Fights Reveal about White Myopia

The next speaker in this AoIR 2015 session is Michael Humphrey, whose interest is in life stories in digital spaces. Today's talk is focussed on the idea of white privilege, however: this can also be understood through the language we use, which colours how we see the world around us. We look at life through many filters, and tell our story through these filters; some of us take an agentic approach to telling our stories (we are at the centre), while others take a more communal approach (we are part of a group).


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