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The mediatisation of society has spawned new ways of political communication in the digital public sphere. Innovative forms of interacting and contributing online have opened up new perspectives for participation that are accompanied by high hopes for more democratic structures. The ideal of deliberative democracy that has long been discussed by theorists like Habermas is linked with the notion of equal discursive options in an open system. Whereas questions regarding mediatisation processes often point at the macro level of political communication online, systematic analyses of discursive strategies and communicational structures provide insights into the micro level of language use.
One of the most recent positive developments in terms of participative discourse can be observed within the microblogging platform Twitter. Despite its restriction to 140 characters per posting, the microblogging system can be conceptualized as a highly complex medium in which a diverse set of communicative actions is being performed by its users on multiple dimensions. Four main Twitter-specific functions, induced by operators, can be identified that offer options for participating in the (political) discourse. The operators of @, RT, #, and http:// enable communicative functions beyond their technical means like addressing, tagging, republishing, and linking that are used strategically to participate in tweet-conversations and to create discursive networks on Twitter.
The aim of the presentation is to discuss a functional operator model of Twitter as a discourse system. Based on a content analysis of Tweets collected during German state elections in 2011 and 2012, it can be shown that the use of the specific functional operators constitute Twitter as a multi-referential discourse system. The triangulate methodological approach for the data analysis combines quantitative measures (frequency profiles, topic profiles) with qualitative measures, i.e., interpersonal interaction (@replies and @retweets), semantic analysis (#hashtags), and speech act analysis. The presentation will exemplify the usage of functional Twitter communication by analysing cases of interaction between politicians and citizens, politicians and politicians, and citizens and citizens. It will be shown how users creatively establish particular discursive practices within the political discourse.
There has been growing interest in the many possible uses of microblogging in higher education, for sharing research but also in learning and teaching. Yet few studies have been undertaken to examine systematically how microblogging technologies are used by academics in their teaching. Most of the studies that have been published focus on practical applications, usually of twitter, to enhance pedagogy and support collaboration in the classroom. These studies have not addressed in detail how academics’ use of the technology in turn shapes teaching practice. The research presented in this paper is an exploratory study that examines how and why academics engage in microblogging in their teaching and learning. It builds up a picture of the temporal and physical rhythms of its use, how its affordances are taken up and how conventions of use emerge. In particular, it focuses on the complex factors that influence microblogging use by academics’, such as their pedagogy, beliefs and prior uses of social network tools and the policy context.
The study employs a qualitative approach to uncover microblogging practices and to obtain rich descriptions of cases that give deeper insight into how twitter is used by academics and how this practice shapes their teaching. The methodological approach is based on developing a series of case studies of academics’ use of twitter, drawing on interviews, observations of twitter streams and student questionnaires. Practice theory is used as a theoretical lens in mapping the reciprocal constitution of academics’ ongoing interactions with microblogging, through recurrent practices, and how these in turn shape their academic routines and use of the tool. This paper reports thematic analysis of the interview data. It shows that academics use microblogging for different purposes in teaching including administration, dissemination of research, sharing of resources and class room learning activity. Academics in the study viewed Twitter as a promising communication tool to support collaborative activity, prolonging participation and interactions. They believed that Twitter enhanced active learning in a blended environment. Results highlight that academics have different beliefs about using Twitter in facilitating learning, distinct levels of expertise, and certain rules may be indeed carrying out different practices of twitter though apparently seem the same. The initial findings contribute to deepening our understanding of the decision to adopt microblogging, the consequences of use on teaching practice and students’ learning experiences. There are practical implications for how the risks of using social media in the classroom can be managed and for institutional policy.
by Alan Scott
Focusing on German, this paper investigates the nature of language use on Twitter and assesses the extent to which this deviates from the norm. It is demonstrated that language use on Twitter, in common which other computer-mediated communication such as chats, exhibits a tension between medial literacy and conceptual orality, and that it is governed by pragmatic factors. The nature of pragmatic variation on Twitter is shown to differ from that found in general everyday language.
The following variables, with a non-standard (a) and standard (b) variant are investigated:
1. dative case with a preposition that assigns the genitive in the norm:
a. während dem Unterricht ‘during the.DAT lesson’
b. während des Unterrichts ‘during the.GEN lesson.GEN’
2. verb-second order after a conjunction with verb-final order in the norm:
a. weil es gibt maximal 10GB kostenlos
b. weil es maximal 10GB kostenlos gibt
‘because there is a maximum of 10GB free’
3. orthography reflecting pronunciation:
a. nimm dir nen Tee
b. nimm dir einen Tee
‘have a tea’
4. lower-case initial letters on nouns and sentence-initially:
a. ich hätte jetzt auch gern kaffee
b. Ich hätte jetzt auch gern Kaffee
‘I’d like coffee now, too’
The morphosyntactic variables are investigated using the affected prepositions and conjunctions as search terms in the Twitter advanced search function; the relative occurrences of the (a) and (b) variants for each variable are quantified. The orthographical variables are investigated by following and analysing the usage of individual users. The nature of the Twitter users who produced the data - private individuals vs. non-private organisations - is used to classify the data pragmatically. Comparable data from corpora of spoken and written German are presented.
It is found that pragmatic variation characterises language use on Twitter, with the non-standard variants more strongly represented in casual tweets produced by private individuals. Unexpectedly, the use of the non-standard variants is weaker in casual Twitter usage than in casual speech. It is posited that non-standard variants are avoided on Twitter in order to avoid criticism of one’s usage by another user, such criticism being widespread among German Twitter users.
The aim of this paper is to explore media framing of the use of Twitter by activists protesting against the current Coalition government's austerity measures, with UK Uncut and Boycott Workfare highlighted as examples of these activist networks. Recent research from within social movement studies suggests that the definition of political opportunity structures must be broadened to include media opportunity structures. This approach contends that activists are aware of mediated political representations of their strategies, which in turn influence activist's protest repertoires.
This paper adopts a discourse-historical approach to critical discourse analysis to show how media framing of the utilisation of social media platforms, specifically Twitter, by activists is used as a discursive strategy to delegitimise the claims of protesters, extending CDA to issues surrounding social media. I argue that claims made by journalists and politicians within the field of mediated politics, such as on BBC's Newsnight, frame the use of social media for activism in a variety of negative ways. Twitter is represented both as a medium colonised by radical and extremist opinion and an instrument employed by individual activists in order to mobilise their followers. Activists' use of twitter is represented in digitally dualistic terms, where a separation between online and offline is strategically employed to discredit activists. This analysis paves the way for further questions relating to how activists respond to these representations, both within the news media and through social media.
Contemporary developed societies are utterly dependent on mobility. Massive flows of people, goods and information are a cornerstone of these economies. This means that gathering knowledge about the impacts of disruptions to mobility and how to manage them is a highly relevant enterprise if the objective is to improve the resilience of present-day social and economic practices.
Alongside an increased dependence on mobility, contemporary developed societies are growing increasingly reliant on information technologies and digital social networking tools such as Facebook and Twitter. The communicative structure and public nature of Twitter in particular has resulted in it becoming a popular tool to report, share and discuss events through real-time micro blogging, connecting topics through the use of hashtags.
This means that a colossal amount of potentially useful information is being constantly produced as a result of millions of individuals tweeting on a daily basis. The challenge that emerges from this is to devise methods to make use of this vast amount of data in high-quality academic research on mobility studies, more specifically on mobility disruptions.
This paper provides a comprehensive framework for researchers interested in utilising Twitter data in their academic work. A critical literature review on methods to gather, filter, and analyse Twitter data is provided, with a variety of case studies from a range of disciplines being presented to illustrate the potential and limitations of these methods. The paper then goes on to assess the aptitude of Twitter to be used in research focused on mobility disruptions.
The paper concludes with a critical reflection on using Twitter in academic research in general, and in the field of mobility studies and transport planning in particular. Future directions of methodological research are also suggested alongside with recommendations for policy makers and public authorities on how to approach Twitter during mobility disruptions.
by Peter Evans
This paper investigates the discursive social practices and community-forming activities associated with professional development activities in Twitter chat events. The sample of events selected were targeted for a specific professional grouping: professionals working in the field of learning and development in organisations. While claims are made for the non-hierarchical nature of these social media and informal learning environments, as with any social practice, they also include clear relations of power. This study focuses on exploring how these relations emerge and evolve. The study explores how competing projections of power are assembled and “processed” in open Twitter chat, in terms of ‘community’ creation through collective meaning-making actions.
The research is framed by an Actor Network Theory (ANT) approach operationalised using Discourse Analysis. A practice-based approach focused on the interrelations between people, artefacts and language in terms of collaboration and control was appropriate here.
A sample of discursive events were analysed in terms of their discourse structure involving attempts to capture conversational ‘floors’ and so initiating processes of translation and enrolment over the course of the events. Networks evolved as actors enrolled others through the translations of specific professional practices, such as what constituted workplace learning and what was classified as something ‘other’. The assembly of discourse communities through the reinforcement of particular discursive stances could clearly be identified. However, such processes were highly unstable through dynamic processes of enrolment and translation but also through the role of the non-human agents in these events. The study draws on the notion of symmetry in ANT to explore how technology actively participates in the shaping of the discussion event. For example, Twitter applications like Tweetdeck aggregate, organise and present Twitter ‘streams’, and hence shape the ‘consumption’ of Twitter chats, contributing to the formation? of the discussion exchanges and sequences.
by Greg Myers
There have been many data-mining studies of large numbers of diverse texts from Twitter. But there is also a need for qualitative studies of Twitter use in specific communities. I consider some of the broader issues in such studies by considering one case, a set of ten Twitter feeds by UK and US academic science researchers at all stages of their careers, from post-docs to the most eminent professors. I focus on two issues: 1) how they refer to and index the time cycles of academic work, and 2) how they play with intertextual links and hashtags. I consider examples from a corpus of tweets of scientists (in such fields as astrophysics, geology, hydrology, and neurosciencde) compared to a reference corpus of tweets on other specific fields of interest (wines, dogs, schools, transit). Twitter is often treated as an ephemeral part of celebrity culture, but these feeds are an important part of contemporary scientific practice, both giving public form to the ‘Invisible College’ linking scientists, and projecting outside the scientific community an image of scientific work and play.
The relationship between people, context and technological tools is constantly evolving, prompting a review of notions such as space and time and their effect on learning. This paper addresses the key question: Can the social media platform Twitter provide a space or framework, within which learners might re-negotiate the boundaries between university, placement and home and create a productive learning environment? The research is informed by a hybrid theoretical framework combining connectivism and activity theory and places emphasis on the value and importance of diverse perspectives in the learning process. These multiple perspectives allow more actively engaged and independent learners to work through the contradictions between different identities. Inherent contradictions between perspectives lead to innovation and transformation in an activity system.
Ethnographic action research was used in the research since it encourages the collection of a ‘plurality of perspectives’ to inform the research process. Data was collected through participant observation of the tweets of a cohort of trainee teachers over a 7 month period, a survey about their use of Twitter and an interview with their tutor. Social network and linguistic analysis suggested that learners were able take part in a range of different discourse types – professional, social, educational resulting in a re-negotiation of their own perception of self-identity and role. They were exposed to a range of resources and expertise which enabled them to solve real life problems e.g. assignments, classroom practice rather than rely on the educational institution and tutor. The role of the tutor was re-negotiated but not satisfactorily resolved. Twitter appeared to provide trainees with a ‘space’ in which they were able to form and co-ordinate a personal learning environment and re-negotiate their role in their own learning. However, future research needs to explore whether the role of a ‘tutor’ is necessary in the Twitter learning ecology in order to ensure critical engagement and transformative learning.
by Julia Gillen
I demonstrate a sociocultural approach to Twitter as a literacy practice, making use of a media ecology framework. I demonstrate how Jonathan Agnew, the BBC's cricket correspondent, appropriated Twitter as part of his engagement with Web 2.0 literacies. I situate this within an approach to understanding BBC Test Cricket journalism, taking into account historical, cultural and economic factors. Through deploying flexible ethnographic methods in a longitudinal study I explore three issues. I present evidence as to his attitudes, including in relation to other communications technologies he uses. I study his use of linguistic and other semiotic resources on Twitter and demonstrate the different kinds of roles played by others. His attitudes are mostly extremely positive, but vary in degrees of integration with other communications practices and fluctuate in response to abuse. His use of Twitter including with images is skilful and highly dialogic. Particularly interesting are short stories co-constructed with others, through which elements of apparently backstage identity are performed. I show how practices of this ʺchange agentʺ can be approached in the context of his overall professional practice and that of cricket, as a specialist media domain in a particular era.
The use of Twitter at professional conferences as part of social media “amplification" is now widespread. This practice generates large amounts of data which have the potential to reveal professional practices, connections, and meaning making around such events. Taking the Open Repositories 2012 conference’s #OR2012 hashtag as an example data set, we apply computational methods for analysing Twitter conversations, developed by the Analysing Social Media Collaboration research group for the ongoing JISC Twitter Analysis Workbench project, and reflect on the process and issues raised.
Tweets are clustered into groups using features extracted from the language used within that tweet. TF-IDF extracted keywords are used to determine the most significant terms and the tweets are split into groups using cosine similarity of the textual features. There are several parameters which can be manually adapted to the specific data set such as the threshold for cluster inclusion and the life span of a tweet, how long until it is removed from a cluster. The Twitter WorkBench offers several methods for visualizing this information including, a time sliced animation where the clusters appear as the topics contained in that cluster are discussed, and as a graphical figure which indicates amongst other things the quality, persistence and growth of the clusters over the entire time period.
We find that scale of participation in a hashtag significantly impacts how such methods - originally intended for the Twitter “firehose” of public tweets - may be applied, and the type and flow of conversations detected.
This analysis method captures and cluster many tweets but can exclude those using non-standard terms or abbreviations - a challenge for any computational analysis of Twitter where 140 character restrictions make abbreviation a common practice. Hybrid human-computer methods to allow clustering of such Twitter conversations are thus considered as an area for further investigation.
Further challenges raised around analysis of a hashtag with multiple strands are considered such as the identification of the different threads based on content and relevance of tweets; how cross-pollination and backchat between threads may be properly interpreted; and how noise (and spam) may be excluded. Whilst some advocate the use of unique identifiers for event sessions, such practices have not been widely adopted and risk creating silos in the Twitter back channel rather than encouraging the type of serendipitous discovery Twitter is well regarded for.
Whilst key conference themes do emerge the analysis of tweets finds travel plans, location, meals, and social plans all feature prominently in Twitter. This raises questions for those analysing Twitter discussions and for those organising events. Are such tweets relevant in the analysis of activity around a hashtag? Should these more informal discussions between professionals be removed or normalised? Can social connections between participants be mapped or inferred from these twitter interactions and indications of following/follower status - and is such analysis ethical despite the public nature of these conversations?
Communication is one of the main constituents of good medical practice. Twitter is emerging as an invaluable tool to communicate with both the medical community and the wider society. From physical world observations and Twitter-mediated interactions, my categorisation of the ways in which microblogging is being used to change the ways medicine is practised is as follows:
by Tom Van Hout
‘Like a boss’ is a 2009 hip-hop spoof by The Lonely Island. The song describes a day in the life of a brash business leader played by American actor Andy Samberg, who shouts ‘like a boss’ after every activity. These activities start out with the mundane (‘direct workflow…like a boss’) but quickly turn to the personal (‘swallow sadness…like a boss’), then to the absurd (‘turn into a jet…like a boss’) before crashing into the sun and dying (‘now I’m dead…like a boss’).
The song was an instant hit on social media, spawning an even more popular catchphrase in the process: ‘like a boss’ is a meme that has captured the imagination of social media users in images and videos that feature people, animals and even inanimate objects doing things ‘their way’, i.e. with authority, flair and aloofness, even if these things involve ‘peeling onions like a boss’ or ‘high-fiving a smiling shark like a boss’.
In this paper we examine the identity practices around the meme’s use in a multilingual corpus of messages posted to microblogging service Twitter with the hashtag #likeaboss. Following Blommaert and Varis, we define identity practices as “discursive orientations towards sets of emblematic resources”. In this particular case, these emblematic resources center around loosely defined and ever-changing evaluations of business leadership. As Zappavigna has shown, Twitter offers a rich and diverse empirical space for studying such evaluative meaning relations.
In the analysis we examine how the like a boss meme
We illustrate these findings and compare them to the meme characteristics that Knobel and Lankshear, and Shifman discern. In conclusion, we take a step back and consider how the like a boss meme speaks to the sociolinguistics of superdiversity and to notions of leadership in (critical) management studies.
by Maria Stopfner
According to the latest reports of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, the internet has become the main hub for neo-fascist ideology. Sheltered by the anonymity of the World Wide Web, members of the far and extreme right can meet up with like-minded comrades. What is more, by exploiting the possibilities of Web 2.0, they can post and discuss their ideas in public introducing new and preferably younger users to their way of thinking through the backdoor of social contacts.
Sharing the notion of identity as a dynamic construct within social interaction, the present paper will focus on far and extreme right political identity exploring how it is shaped and maintained in public online debates. The analysis combines conversation analytic approaches to identity construction with typical far and extreme right argumentation schemes specified by critical discourse analysis.
The quantitative as well as qualitative analysis of 1047 user comments shows that political affiliation is seldom stated outright. Far and extreme right political identity is moreover conveyed by sharing certain beliefs and values serving as a communicative shibboleth through which the individual can proof “uniformity in thought and action” with the far and extreme right as a community of practice in which “ways of doing things, ways of talking, beliefs, values, power relations – in short, practices – emerge”.
by Fabio Massimo D’Amato and Fabio Poroli
The paper concerns the analysis of a particular feature of the spontaneous linguistic interaction in Twitter which is empirically definable as “formulaic” and that consists of the production of tweets on the basis of pre-formed segments, drawn from advertising slogans and treated as autonomous rhetorical patterns. In this research – which is a spin-out of an analogous work centred on two specific commercials aired in the last years on the Italian national broadcasts – is detected an uniformity of treatment of specific slogans within extended corpora of tweets. That leads to notice that this sort of clause- and sentence-patterns characterize, cross-linguistically, the discourse in Twitter:
1. “La prima di una lunga serie di spesa online! Ci sono cose che non si possono comprare, per tutto il resto c'è #Mastercard!”
2. “Desayuno servido en la cama, un buen libro y un sol espectacular en mi ventanal. Para todo lo demás existe mastercard...”
3. “Spending an afternoon in Mumbai wrapped in a sweater! Priceless. For everything else there's Mastercard”
The equable re-use of the MasterCard advertising campaign slogan in 1, 2 and 3 (respectively, Italian, Spanish and English tweets) give an idea of the kind of parallel treatment is at issue here.Through a formal syntactic analysis, with particular attention to the change of the information structure, the paper seeks to provide a description of the particular rhetorical and stylistic statute of this phenomenon of linguistic reworking and to relate it to the set of features which define the discourse in Twitter. Micro-blogging as source of micro-textuality and advertising language share many existence conditions, starting from the brevity of the message. The influence of the latter on the first, definitely spread by sociolinguistic factors, underlines the need of the language to recover known patterns to comply with requirements related to others already known.
by Todd Graham
Twitter, once created to share personal status updates, has become one of the most prominent social networks. This site has grown from a sharing platform for the internet savvy to a worldwide known microblog, attracting over 500 million users generating about 340 million tweets daily. Thus, it was only a matter of time before politicians entered this brave new world. Indeed, politicians across Western democracies are increasingly experimenting with Twitter, particularly during election time. Besides campaign updates and promotion, Twitter is being used to give citizens a glimpse into a candidate’s personal life, e.g. to raise confidence and establish a closer relationship with the public. This paper investigates the personal in political candidates’ tweets during the 2010 British and Dutch general election campaigns. The aim is to map the various ways in which candidates use the personal in a political context. First, a content analysis of tweets (n = 54,327) from all twittering British (Conservatives, Labour and LibDems) and Dutch (10 seat-holding parties) candidates was conducted. This was followed by a qualitative analysis of a group of selected candidates’ personal tweets. The analysis showed that politicians share their private lives on Twitter to a certain extent. A notable percentage of tweets (5% in the British case and 9% in the Dutch case) contained purely personal information, e.g. about family and leisure, whereas in many of the political tweets, the personal gets intermingled with the political for more strategic purposes. The qualitative analysis will show how these personal stories and experiences are mingled with the political and how this may create a sense of intimacy with the public (followers).
Wine reception and book launch prior to the Conference Dinner.
Conference Dinner held at Lancaster House Hotel
10th–12th April 2013