Thursday 11th April, 2013
11:15am to 12:15pm
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.
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