Researching the uses of Twitter: Axel Bruns at #dmmm1

I just listened to/viewed Axel Bruns’ (@snurb_dot_info) session at the Digital Methods as Mainstream Methodology event last week (see my report).

Axel put up his slidecast (embedded below) almost straightaway. It’s the first time I’ve watched a Slideshare slidecast, and no doubt there’s more to creating one than it seems, but I wish more presenters/event organisers would use them. It’s a no-nonsense way of getting what you need without the rigours of streaming, video etc – my sort of webinar. Note also that it’s been viewed nearly 1400 times in a week.

The presentation looked at mapping online publics, in particular via the use of hashtags:

  • How do different hashtag events compare?
  • How do they form and dissolve, how do they interact, what structures do they form? How big are they?
  • Do they simply consist of the usual suspects? How insular or disconnected are they? (People participating in hashtag events may be unlinked but have a level of co-awareness varying in intensity and temporality.)
  • How big is the central core of users (long tail, 90/9/1 distribution)?
  • Where do they draw information from, what do they share?
  • What ‘community’ structures emerge? What traces do they leave (eg follower generation and reciprocation).
  • What do they do – inform (links), share (retweeting un/edited, chat (@replies)? What can occurrences of @ replies, RTs, original tweets and URLs tell us?

Typology of hashtag uses:

  • gatewatching – breaking news, ad hoc publics (lots of RTs)
  • audiencing – sharing experience of major events (few URLs, limited RTing)
  • discussions – cf chats
  • memes and emotive tags

Networks and how to map them:

  • micro (@reply and RTs), meso (hashtag ‘communities’), macro (follower/followee) – multiple and overlapping
  • start from selected hashtag communities
  • identify participating users – typology?
  • retrieve follower/followee information for each account
  • identify thematic clusters
  • slow and laborious, never complete…

Uses these tools: YourTwapperKeeper, Gawk (open source, data processing), Leximancer and WordStat (commercial, textual analysis), Gephi (open source, network visualisation).

All very useful for looking at the effectiveness of amplified events and my Law Teacher 2.0 project.

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