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Social Media Network Mapping

Simulating Heterogeneous-Intent Cascades

The next speaker at Web Science 2016 is Onur Varol, who points out the wide variety of purposes for which people use social media, and notes that we change our online persona and usage styles according to different communicative contexts. Can we match language style and user intent, then?

Predicting Twitter-Based Information Cascades

The next session at Web Science 2016 starts with a paper by Jure Leskovec on information cascades. Such cascades emerge as users of social media platforms (re)share content through their networks, and the prediction of such processes is traditionally very difficult.

Networks of Caucasian User Groups on VKontakte

The final speaker in this Web Science 2016 session is Daniel Alexandrov, whose interest is in the use of social networking platforms in politics across the Caucasus region. This is a diverse and politically tense region, with several intractable political conflicts.

How Twitter Network Features Predict Users' Attitudes towards Islam

Next up at Web Science 2016 is Walid Magdy, whose focus is on social media commentary following the terrorist attacks in Paris in late 2016. Immediately after the attacks, sympathy with Paris was expressed on Twitter – but as the attacks were linked with Islamist terrorists, anti-Muslim messages also began to appear.

New Publications, and Coming Attractions

I’m delighted to share a couple of new publications written with my esteemed colleagues in the QUT Digital Media Research Centre – and as if we weren’t working on enough research projects already, this year is about to get an awful lot busier soon, too. First, though, to the latest articles:

Axel Bruns, Brenda Moon, Avijit Paul, and Felix Münch. “Towards a Typology of Hashtag Publics: A Large-Scale Comparative Study of User Engagement across Trending Topics.Communication Research and Practice 2.1 (2016): 20-46.

This article, in a great special issue of Communication Research and Practice on digital media research methods that was edited by my former PhD student Jonathon Hutchinson, updates my previous work with Stefan Stieglitz that explored some key metrics for a broad range of hashtag datasets and identified some possible types of hashtags using those metrics. In this new work, we find that the patterns we documented then still hold today, and add some further pointers towards other types of hashtags. We’re particularly thankful to our colleagues Jan Schmidt, Fabio Giglietto, Steven McDermott, Till Keyling, Xi Cui, Steffen Lemke, Isabella Peters, Athanasios Mazarakis, Yu-Chung Cheng, and Pailin Chen, who contributed some of their own datasets to our analysis.

Folker Hanusch and Axel Bruns. “Journalistic Branding on Twitter: A Representative Study of Australian Journalists’ Profile Descriptions.Digital Journalism (2016).

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.

AoIR 2015: Some Notes ahead of the Digital Methods Pre-Conference Session

It's that time of the year when everything else stops and the international community of Internet researchers assembles for the annual AoIR conference. This time we're in Phoenix – arguably the warmest location AoIR has held its conference to date, and a trend very much worth continuing. I have a particularly good reason for coming to the conference this year – in addition to the usual programme of keynotes and presentations, my colleagues have seen fit to elect me as Vice-President of the Association of Internet Researchers, and I'm humbled by the honour of being able to help AoIR continue to flourish.

We start this year's conference with the pre-conference events, and here the QUT Digital Media Research Centre has put together a one-day research methods workshop which has turned out to be popular beyond expectations – with around 100 attendees for this workshop alone, we've had to make some last-minute adjustments to the format and programme of the event. Some of what could have worked as hands-on elements will now need to turn into methods demos, and this goes especially for my workshop on analysing Twitter data, gathered with TCAT, by using Tableau and Gephi.

Some New Publications

It’s been some time since I last posted an update on my latest publications – though you may have seen that on the front page of this site, I’ve updated the banner of the most recent books I’ve been featured in, at last. There is quite a lot more work in the pipeline for the immediate future, including a major new collection which I’ve edited with colleagues in Norway and Sweden – more on that soon.

For now, though, you wouldn’t go wrong if you started by checking out the new journal Social Media + Society, which I’m delighted to be involved in as a member of the Editorial Board. We launched issue 1.1 with a collection of brief manifesto pieces that outline why the study of social media and their impacts on society is so important, featuring many leading researchers in this emerging field. And what’s more, the whole journal is open access! For what it’s worth, here’s my contribution:

Axel Bruns. “Making Sense of Society through Social Media.Social Media + Society 1.1 (2015). DOI: 10.1177/2056305115578679.

Along similar lines, my QUT Digital Media Research Centre colleagues and I have also continued our critical engagement with social media and ‘big data’ research methods and approaches, which has resulted in two new book chapters recently.

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