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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.

Table of Contents

Foreword: Debanalising Twitter: The Transformation of an Object of Study
Richard Rogers

Twitter and Society: An Introduction
Katrin Weller, Axel Bruns, Jean Burgess, Merja Mahrt, & Cornelius Puschmann

Part I: Concepts and Methods


1 Twitter and the Rise of Personal Publics
Jan-Hinrik Schmidt

2 Structural Layers of Communication on Twitter
Axel Bruns & Hallvard Moe

3 Structure of Twitter: Social and Technical
Alexander Halavais

4 The Politics of Twitter Data
Cornelius Puschmann & Jean Burgess


5 Data Collection on Twitter
Devin Gaffney & Cornelius Puschmann

6 Metrics for Understanding Communication on Twitter
Axel Bruns & Stefan Stieglitz

7 Sentiment Analysis and Time Series with Twitter
Mike Thelwall

8 Computer-Assisted Content Analysis of Twitter Data
Jessica Einspänner, Mark Dang-Anh, & Caja Thimm

9 Ethnographic and Qualitative Research on Twitter
Alice E. Marwick

10 Legal Questions of Twitter Research
Michael Beurskens

Part II: Perspectives and Practices


11 From #FollowFriday to YOLO: Exploring the Cultural Salience of Twitter Memes
Alex Leavitt

12 Twitter and Geographical Location
Rowan Wilken

13 Privacy on Twitter, Twitter on Privacy
Michael Zimmer & Nicholas Proferes

14 Automated Twitter Accounts
Miranda Mowbray

15 Information Retrieval for Twitter Data
Ke Tao, Claudia Hauff, Fabian Abel, & Geert-Jan Houben

16 Documenting Contemporary Society by Preserving Relevant Information from Twitter
Thomas Risse, Wim Peters, Pierre Senellart, & Diana Maynard


Popular Culture

17 The Perils and Pleasures of Tweeting with Fans
Nancy Baym

18 Tweeting about the Telly: Live TV, Audiences, and Social Media
Stephen Harrington

19 Following the Yellow Jersey: Tweeting the Tour de France
Tim Highfield

20 Twitter and Sports: Football Fandom in Emerging and Established Markets
Axel Bruns, Katrin Weller, & Stephen Harrington

Brand Communication

21 Public Enterprise-Related Communication and Its Impact on Social Media Issue Management
Stefan Stieglitz & Nina Krüger

22 Twitter, Brands, and User Engagement
Tanya Nitins & Jean Burgess

Politics and Activism

23 Political Discourses on Twitter: Networking Topics, Objects, and People
Axel Maireder & Julian Ausserhofer

24 Twitter in Politics and Elections: Insights from Scandinavia
Anders Olof Larsson & Hallvard Moe

25 The Gift of the Gab: Retweet Cartels and Gift Economies on Twitter
Johannes Paßmann, Thomas Boeschoten, & Mirko Tobias Schäfer


26 The Use of Twitter by Professional Journalists: Results of a Newsroom Survey in Germany
Christoph Neuberger, Hanna Jo vom Hofe, & Christian Nuernbergk

27 Twitter as an Ambient News Network
Alfred Hermida

Crisis Communication

28 Crisis Communication in Natural Disasters
Axel Bruns & Jean Burgess

29 Twitpic-ing the Riots: Analysing Images Shared on Twitter during the 2011 U.K. Riots
Farida Vis, Simon Faulkner, Katy Parry, Yana Manyukhina, & Lisa Evans

Twitter in Academia

30 Twitter in Scholarly Communication
Merja Mahrt, Katrin Weller, & Isabella Peters

31 How Useful Is Twitter for Learning in Massive Communities? An Analysis of Two MOOCs
Timo van Treeck & Martin Ebner

Epilogue: Why Study Twitter?
Cornelius Puschmann, Axel Bruns, Merja Mahrt, Katrin Weller, and Jean Burgess