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Conference Blogging Coming Up

I’m currently on the road again, as part of a trip which has already taken me through Hamburg (for a meeting with our research partners at the Hans-Bredow-Institut) and Göttingen (for the inaugural workshop of our new ATN-DAAD-funded research collaboration with colleagues at the Göttingen Digital Humanities Centre. The latter will focus especially on developing new methods for analysing and visualising social media networks, building on the considerable work we’ve already done in this area – and at the workshop last week we’ve already made good progress towards a few new ideas for what we can do. With my colleagues Jean Burgess and Darryl Woodford I also participated in a public symposium at the GCDH, and I’ll make the slides and audio from our talk available here soon.

A Mid-Year Update of Recent Publications

I’ve continued to update my lists of publications and presentations over the past months, but I think it’s time to do another quick round-up of recent work before all the new projects start in earnest.

First off, my colleagues Darryl Woodford, Troy Sadkowsky and I have been making some good progress developing further methodological approaches to Twitter research – focussing this time especially on examining how accounts gain their followers (for some of the outcomes from that research, also see our coverage at Mapping Online Publics):

Axel Bruns, Darryl Woodford, and Troy Sadkowsky. “Towards a Methodology for Examining Twitter Follower Accession.First Monday 19.4 (2014).

Axel Bruns and Darryl Woodford. “Identifying the Events That Connect Social Media Users: Charting Follower Accession on Twitter.” In SAGE Research Methods Cases. London: Sage, 2013.

More generally, I’ve also been involved in a couple of related publications led by Stefan Stieglitz from the University of Münster (one in English,  one in German) which highlight the contribution which the emerging field of social media analytics will be able to make to the disciplines of business informatics and information systems:

Twitter and Society

Since its launch in 2006, Twitter has evolved from a niche service to a mass phenomenon; it has become instrumental for everyday communication as well as for political debates, crisis communication, marketing, and cultural participation. But the basic idea behind it has stayed the same: users may post short messages (tweets) of up to 140 characters and follow the updates posted by other users. Drawing on the experience of leading international Twitter researchers from a variety of disciplines and contexts, this is the first book to document the various notions and concepts of Twitter communication, providing a detailed and comprehensive overview of current research into the uses of Twitter. It also presents methods for analysing Twitter data and outlines their practical application in different research contexts. 

This collection of important work – featuring both well-known and emerging scholars from diverse disciplines – helps contextualise Twitter as a sociotechnical phenomenon. It will serve as a crucial foundation for new research while also offering useful perspectives for educators helping students to understand social media. By going beyond naïve stereotypes and revealing the complex practices and diverse users that help define Twitter, this book provides rich insights into the importance of social media in contemporary life.

-- danah boyd, Senior Researcher at Microsoft Research and Research Assistant Professor in Media, Culture, and Communication at New York University

Talk of Big Data is everywhere, as contributors to this book rightly note. This timely collection, bringing together noted scholars and academics who work in the area, offers important insight into Big Data through a focus on the most important real-time stream message bus today, namely Twitter. Covering key aspects of Twitter social use and practices, Twitter and Society is a key text for providing empirical and methodological reflection on a fast-moving and important area of research.

-- David M. Berry, Reader in Media & Communication and Co-Director of the Centre for Material Digital Culture at Sussex University

Twitter and Society was released by Peter Lang, New York, in November 2013.

Now Out: Twitter and Society

I am delighted to report the culmination of a very intensive, highly collaborative project: our new book Twitter and Society, edited by Katrin Weller, Jean Burgess, Merja Mahrt, Cornelius Puschmann, and me, was launched at the Association of Internet Researchers conference in Denver a few days ago and is now available from Amazon and the Peter Lang Website. I’m very pleased that we managed to get the first copies of the book printed in time for the conference, to be able to hand them to the many of our contributors who were present at AoIR 2013.

The book is a 450-page anthology of the very best of current Twitter research, providing a comprehensive overview of research methods, concepts, challenges, and applications. It features some 31 chapters, a foreword by the University of Amsterdam’s Richard Rogers – and we’re particularly proud to have been able to use the painting Die Zwitschermaschine (The Twittering Machine) by Paul Klee as the book cover. Many, many thanks to our 45 contributors for their fabulous contributions. A full list of chapters is below – and here’s a group photo from the launch at AoIR 2013. You can also follow further updates about the book at @twitsocbook!

Twitter and Society Has Been Launched

I'll be writing much more about this very soon, but for now just a quick note to say that one of the major events at AoIR 2013 was the launch of Twitter and Society, the new collection edited by Katrin Weller, Jean Burgess, Merja Mahrt, Cornelius Puschmann and me which will be published by Peter Lang in the coming days. The book contains more than 30 chapters by a stellar line-up of Internet scholars, and should be listed on Amazon and the Peter Lang site within the next week - I'll post an update then. For a preview of what's covered, and for further updates, check the @twitsocbook Twitter account - and for now, here's a group shot of some of our contributors and editors, with the very first copies of the book.

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!

Introducing the Companion to New Media Dynamics

I’m delighted to announce the completion of another major project: Blackwell has just published A Companion to New Media Dynamics, edited by my CCI colleagues John Hartley, Jean Burgess, and me. The title of this substantial volume may seem a little strange at first – why not just “… to New Media”? –, but with this collection we aimed specifically to highlight new media as a set of dynamic, evolving, and sometimes elusive practices rather than a static, easily defined thing.

The volume brings together contributions from a long list of researchers in the field, and combines international research leaders with key emerging scholars who will drive the next generation of new media and Internet research. But don’t take my word for it – take Toby Miller’s: “We are fortunate indeed to have this tour d'horizon of young and middle-aged media across Europe, North America, and Asia. It features an array of established and emergent writers whose clear prose and thorough research mark out their work.”

My own chapter in the book provides a historical overview of the development of personal presence online: it charts the course of evolution from hand-coded homepages to social network profiles, taking in a few detours and possible dead ends (GeoCities, anyone?) along the way. My sense is that there’s a continuing struggle between experimentation and standardisation which has had us oscillating between these two extremes; at the moment, the relative rigidity of Facebook and Twitter profile templates places us closer towards the standardised, “one size fits all” end. Perhaps it’s time for the pendulum to swing back again soon?

Here’s a complete list of chapters:

A Final 2012 Publications Round-Up

As we’re hurtling down the last few hours towards 2013, it seems like a good idea to take stock of what was an incredibly busy 2012. Here, then, is a round-up of all (I think) of my publications and presentations for the year, organised into loose thematic categories. In all, and with my various collaborators from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Creative Industries and Innovation and beyond, I seem to have generated some 4 book chapters, 12 journal articles, 22 conference presentations and one major report – and that’s not counting various articles in The Guardian, The Conversation, and other media outlets. There’s also a few more articles still in the pipeline – but given today’s date, I suspect they’ll end up counting towards 2013 rather than 2012…

 

Social Media Research Methods

One major component of our Mapping Online Publics work for this year has been the further development of our social media research approaches, especially as far as Twitter research is concerned. A number of my publications have dealt with the practical aspects of this work:

New Article on Twitter and Journalism in Australia

I’m please to say that a new article of mine has been published in Media International Australia (which means I’ve now had articles in consecutive MIA issues…). The issue in question, on “The ‘New’ News”, was edited by my QUT colleagues Stephen Harrington and Brian McNair, and looks like a bumper collection of exciting work – full details are here.

My article is on the use of Twitter by Australian journalists, looking especially at the Rudd/Gillard leadership spill in June 2010, and the federal election night in August. Below is the abstract – the full article is here, and a pre-print version is here.

Journalists and Twitter: How Australian News Organisations Adapt to a New Medium

From the substantial volume of tweets during the Rudd/Gillard spill, the 2010 election campaign, and the screening of Q&A episodes to Australian editor Chris Mitchell’s threat to sue journalism academic Julie Posetti for reporting on statements about him at an academic conference, Twitter has developed an increasingly visible presence in Australian journalism. While detractors like Mitchell remain vocal, many other journalists have begun to explore manageable approaches to incorporating Twitter into their work practices, and for some – like the ABC’s ‘star recruits’ Annabel Crabb and Latika Bourke – it has already become a career driver.

Building on the data generated by a continuing, three-year ARC Discovery project, this article examines the tweeting practices of selected high-profile Australian journalists during significant political events, and explores their positioning within and interactions with the wider network of Australian Twitter users. It employs innovative data processing approaches to assess the centrality of these professional journalists to the networks of Australians discussing the news on Twitter, and places these observations in a wider context of journalist/audience relations, a decade after the emergence of the first citizen journalism Websites.

Twitter and the Media: Methods, ATNIX, Citizen Journalism, and the Olympics

Here are some more updates on my recent adventures in the world of Twitter research. First, I’m very happy to report that a new chapter on the impact of Twitter on the long-standing melée between industrial and citizen journalism has now been published. In the article, co-written with my CCI colleague Tim Highfield, we explore how the emergence of Twitter as a middle ground between the branded spaces of news Websites and citizen journalist blogs and other sites complicates the previously somewhat more obvious battle lines between the two sides – extending a process of, if not convergence then at least increasing interconnection, which has been evident for some time (except for the last remaining cold warriors of the blog wars).

The article has been published in Produsing Theory in a Digital World, edited by Rebecca Ann Lind – congratulations on what looks like a very interesting volume. (And on a personal note, it’s also very gratifying to see yet another colleague take up the produsage idea and do interesting things with it, of course.)

Axel Bruns and Tim Highfield. “Blogs, Twitter, and Breaking News: The Produsage of Citizen Journalism.” In Rebecca Ann Lind, ed., Produsing Theory in a Digital World: The Intersection of Audiences and Production. New York: Peter Lang, 2012.

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