Twitter and Microblogging: Political, Professional and Personal Practices schedule

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Wednesday 10th April 2013

  • Registration

    To register for Twitter and Microblogging: Political, Professional and Personal Practices, please go to the foyer of the George Fox building (listed as no. 55 on the campus map).

    The official Lancaster University map can be found here:


    At 10:00am to 11:00am, Wednesday 10th April

    In GF Foyer, George Fox Building, Lancaster University

  • Introduction

    Introduction to Twitter and Microblogging: Political, Professional and Personal Practices

    At 11:00am to 11:30am, Wednesday 10th April

    In GF1, George Fox Building, Lancaster University

  • Plenary: Online freedom and repressive law: The paradox of digital journalism

    by Lee Salter

    Twitter and similar services represent one of the key paradoxes of liberal capitalism. The apparent freedom it affords communicators in an unregulated space resembles for some a free-market of ideas, or at least a significant form of rapid news circulation that circumvents broadcast-age regulation. However, drawing on Gramsci's distinction between coercion and consent, it can be seen how, as with the "free-market", the potential for freedom has been cut short. Whilst the attention of journalists and scholars has pointed to injunctions, court restrictions and libel cases, there have been much more pernicious cases of indirect control, especially in crisis situations such as the London riots and the Israeli invasion of Gaza. I will take these two cases to open a discussion into the concept of "public order" and how disruptions to it arising from microblogging practices are dealt with by politicians and mainstream media.

    At 11:30am to 12:30pm, Wednesday 10th April

    In GF1, George Fox Building, Lancaster University

  • Lunch


    At 12:30pm to 1:30pm, Wednesday 10th April

    In GF Foyer, George Fox Building, Lancaster University

  • Building rapport in conference live tweets

    by Giorgia Riboni

    The language of tweeting represents an instance of Internet- and mobile phone-mediated communication which allows users to address a networked audience (i.e a stratified and interconnected audience consisting of real and potential viewers of tweets) thus cutting across the boundaries of discourse communities. As a consequence, the use of Twitter has been rapidly spreading among many professional categories which utilize this microblogging platform to reach a potentially global audience. In particular, an increasing number of scholars and academics has been exploiting Twitter to promote their work as well as the conferences they organize or attend. As a consequence, conference live-tweeting, i.e engaging on the microblogging platform Twitter for a continuous period of time with a sequence of focused entries (“tweets” of 140 characters) in order to cover an unfolding conference live event has become a very common practice in the world of academia.

    Building on a previous study on conference live tweeting as a means of disseminating knowledge, this paper intends to investigate conference Twitter entries under a systemic-functional perspective, focusing on how the interpersonal function is realized. As suggested by Michele Zappavigna, “microblogging is rarely about presenting bald facts or narrating activity [ …] We use social media in the service of sharing values as a way of communicating our experience of the world and bonding with others”. In light of these considerations, it is legitimate to expect that conference live tweets realize an interpersonal function as well as share information. In this study I investigate the main language strategies adopted by scholars in conference tweets so as to build rapport, that is to say to construct their academic identity and establish a connection with their audience.

    Particular attention is devoted to those metadiscursive elements which Hyland defines engagement markers as they explicitly address the readers, either by selectively focusing their attention or by including them as participants in the text. In order to analyze engagement markers and the other language devices which carry out the interpersonal function an ad hoc corpus of conference live tweets has been collected and processed both manually and with software for corpus interrogation.

    At 1:40pm to 2:10pm, Wednesday 10th April

    In GF2, George Fox Building, Lancaster University

  • Search as sociality: Trends as collaboration between people and platform

    by Elizabeth Merkhofer

    This paper is built off ethnographic observation of trending ʺmicro-memesʺ on Twitter, short, phrasal hashtags that reach enormous popularity for hours or days before being abandoned (e.g. #ThingsYouSayToYourBestFriend, #NobodyLikes). I examine how people and platform interact to create a discourse, focusing my analysis on the real time search associated with the hashtag and on the massively multi-user environment.

    Users exploit the real-time search function to create social ties rather than ties based on time-sensitivity or topic. A trending topic is displayed as a real-time search page, and a micro-meme truns rapidly-moving activity into shallow interactivity by creates a seemingly endless stream of commentary that is highly visible around the site on such a page. However, micro-meme themes are often unrelated to actual events, instead gathering commentary on timeless scenarios like relationships. The endless stream offers no insight into the temporal course of a topic’s popularity. Also, micro-memes appropriate the hashtag search function, which is used not to aggregate talk on a topic in the broader sense, but rather to call up a specific, lexically unlikely string (the micro-meme), the inclusion of which marks affiliation with the emergent discourse.

    The massively multi-user environment is also analyzed. The stream on a trending topic page is highly interactive and infinitely deep: the Tweet links both in branches and recursively to connect it to the entirety of the Twitterverse, beginning with the Tweet’s author. The association of each Tweet with many contexts and the fact that it is displayed in multiple collocations around the site displays what Marwick and boyd call “context collapse,” in the face of which users orient to both the trend and to existing social networks. Impersonal accounts that tweet sayings or are parodies of pop culture characters, rather than apparently personal accounts, are responsible for the top Retweets. Other repeated tweets are found to be paraphrased or retyped, though offering unlikely commentary (e.g., a broad array of similarly-phrased comments about poorly drawn-on eyebrows in the stream of #LeaveItIn2012). This suggests that users resist the deeper connection, in the form of mutual linking, attendant to Retweeting another user outside their own social network. Finally, a high amount of the second-person is found, in the form of pronouns and of imperatives. This use of deixis causes Tweets to get their meanings from their present context, affiliating both with the trend and with the user’s local social network.

    At 1:40pm to 2:10pm, Wednesday 10th April

    In GF3, George Fox Building, Lancaster University

  • Polyphony of discourse on and about Twitter: Analysis of Twitter uses in the European Parliament, Commission and Council

    by Sandrine Roginsky

    Digital social networks appear to offer its users a tool for expression which is both personalized and institutionalized. What are the consequences for the European institutions and what is the impact on its political communication? This presentation focuses on three European institutions (the European Commission, the European Parliament and the European Council) and investigates whether Twitter makes it possible, or not, to articulate various types of discourses on one single platform, in particular the « neutral speech » of the institution and the « speech of truth » of its actors. To this end, the study uses a sociodiscursive approach and looks into the discourses of civil servants about Twitter, as well as analyzing the discourses they produce on Twitter. This presentation points to contradictions between the discourses about Twitter and the discourses on Twitter. Discourses on Twitter lead to the blurring of politics and to a more consensual form of communication. The presentation highlights the fluctuation in the way the issuer is presenting him or herself, resulting in instability in the way the message is produced on Twitter.

    After focusing on civil servants in the European institutions, the presentation turns to Members of the European Parliament (MEP) and investigates whether Twitter has an impact not only on political communication but also on political work in the European Parliament. The single paper presentation shows that Twitter does not fundamentally alter political work and political communication but rather fits into a larger dispositif of various tools, which have distinctive objectives. Digital social networks are embedded in a more comprehensive approach to communication aiming at articulating various types of discourses of MEPs, and adjusting language to audiences.

    This presentation chooses to focus on actors and practices in order to analyze discourses on and about Twitter. This standpoint justifies the proposed research methodology: participant observation, interviews and discursive analysis.

    At 2:15pm to 2:45pm, Wednesday 10th April

    In GF4, George Fox Building, Lancaster University

  • Titanic’s journey on Twitter: An interactive narrative of myth and cultural memory

    by Photini Vrikki

    On the centenary anniversary of Titanic’s sinking, The History Press, one of the UK's largest local and specialist history publishers, in the quest to carve out a niche in the great chronicle of the Titanic, created a different version of the story; one that is built up as a breaking news narrative on Twitter. By rethinking the story of the Titanic through the affordances of digital culture, the Twitter story of @TitanicRealTime will be unravelled in terms of narratology, interactivity, myth and memory. Essentially it will be argued that @TitanicRealTime allows a different interpretation to the tragic accident, one that rests between reality and myth, blurring the boundaries between history and fiction. Thus, the focus of this presentation will be to disclose two deep- seated realms that inform and influence this work: the interactive structures of a social media network narration and the mythical tropes of cultural memory presented in this creative representation of Titanic’s journey.

    The point is precisely that by employing the communicative affordances of Twitter, @TitanicRealTime manages to craft a new artistic endeavour that presents a story of a century old as breaking news. Looking it through Elizabeth Lenk’s concept of achronie, a concept where the depth of time is eliminated and the concept of past has no precise reference to the narrative, @TitanicRealTime is seen as an interactive story that challenges the boundaries of time, space and setting. Once the ambiguity of the interactive narrative is analysed through David Herman’s and Marie-Laure Ryan’s narratological terms, it is easy to recognise that the story is actively designing a creative form of social communication.

    By further arranging the story content in a bricolage of fragmented tweets and interlinked sources, the retelling and restructuring of the events will be discussed through the multiple proscenia notion and the multiple narrators technique, based on Lévi-Strauss’s work in La Pensée sauvage. Indeed, the interactive practices of Twitter create a realm where the communicative interplay between Twitter and the story, allow the microblogging community and each reader to move freely around @TitanicRealTime and compose their own discourse, whose manifold angles can only be sufficiently explained as a multidisciplinary panorama. This makes the need all the more pressing to distinguish this kind of reading, linear or otherwise, depending on the ever- changing roles of author-reader and text-reader, as first discussed by Barthes in his essay La Mort de l’auteur.

    Fascinating and perplexing the story of the Titanic has been researched, probed and investigated through numerous books, films, and documentaries; all giving a version of a history that relied, and still relies, on the schema of hubris and nemesis. As seen through the vast research of Richard Howells, mythical elements such as the attribution of the Titanic’s unsinkability and the legend of the band that kept playing until the last moment, were never proven real. The presentation will examine thus how such mythical elements endow the Titanic and its victims with a place in immortality so to make meaning out of a meaningless event, creating a version of a history that relies on mythical recollections and divine intervention; fact and myth. Cultural memory and the mythical process of inducing memory will thence be paralleled to what literary critics call mimesis: a term that alludes to the narrative forms and aesthetic techniques through which a literary text, structures and imitates the workings of memory.

    Through the spectrum of the new mode of artistic world construction afforded by the development of digital culture, this presentation will aim to disclose the influences of digital culture on cultural memory and the narrative.

    At 2:15pm to 2:45pm, Wednesday 10th April

    In GF2, George Fox Building, Lancaster University

  • Turkish MPs use of personal pronoun ʺweʺ in Twitter community: A genre-based political discourse analysis

    by Emre Yağlı

    This study focuses on the Members of Turkish Parliaments' (MPs) use of third person plural pronoun ʺweʺ in one of the microblogging communities, namely Twitter. Following Swales’ notion of “communicative purpose” which is the primary criterion for genre classification, the genre based data has been constituted. Further, among the five sub-genres of Twitter as a digital genre, which has been given in as (i) personal updates, (ii) directed dialogue, (iii) real-time sharings, (iv) business broadcasting and (v) information seeking, personal updates of Turkish MPs have been analysed in regard to the use of “we” in Twitter community. In this regard, the notion of “social activity”, which is associated with “communicative purpose” and ideological functions of genres in Critical Discourse Analysis perspective, has been defined as to share personal information and opinions in personal updates of Turkish MPs. The data have been gathered through TwitterAPI which consist of tweets posted by Turkish MPs (321 out of 550 MPs) between 1st and 30th of November, 2012. In addition, the communication flow through tweets from MPs and the public, which are those who tweet and who follow respectively, have been analysed to demonstrate power relations in frame of the “territory of information”: (i) The scope of reference to the personal pronoun ʺweʺ in regard to inclusion and exclusion of a specific group and (ii) intentions of the person who posted the tweet. As an initial results of the study, it can be said that while MPs of opposition use the pronoun ʺweʺ in inclusive purpose, those who are in the ruling side use the pronoun ʺweʺ in exclusive manner. Furthermore, it should be stated that the scope of reference also varies among opposition parties due to contrasting fundamental differences among them. The scope of reference of the pronoun ʺweʺ and its socio-political determinants have been highlighted in the analyses conducted.

    At 2:15pm to 2:45pm, Wednesday 10th April

    In GF3, George Fox Building, Lancaster University

  • Break


    At 2:45pm to 3:15pm, Wednesday 10th April

    In GF Foyer, George Fox Building, Lancaster University

  • Elite tweets: Analysing the twitter communication patterns of Labour Party Peers in the House of Lords

    by Darren Lilleker

    The micro-blogging platform twitter has gained notoriety for its dual status as both a tool for communication between private individuals, as well as a public forum monitored by journalists, the public, and the state. Its potential application for political communication has not gone unnoticed; politicians have used twitter to attract voters, interact with constituencies and advance issue-based campaigns. Political users of twitter also keep in touch with their allies, counteract their opposition and reach out to media. Finally, due to the blurring of public and private inherent to the platform, political users also tweet about their personal lives, their families, their interests and sometimes controversially, their private views on a range of political and social events. While a great deal of academic scholarship has explored the traditional political communication on emerging new media platforms, further research is needed to better understand these last two dynamics: How do elite networks form and operate on social networking platforms like twitter? What are their contours and dynamics? And finally how does the dual public/private nature of twitter and its content inform the way that political actors engage with the platform?

    This presentation reports on the preliminary results of the research team’s work with 32 peers of the Labour frontbench. It is based on the monitoring and archival of their activity on Twitter from May 16th to the end of August 2012. Using a sample of more than 850 tweets and a mixed methodology combining semantic analysis, social network analysis and quantitative analysis, this paper explores the peers’ patterns of usage and communication on Twitter.

    At 3:15pm to 3:45pm, Wednesday 10th April

    In GF2, George Fox Building, Lancaster University

    Coverage slide deck

  • Of bees and belligerence: The #royalprank and the Twitter swarm

    by Emma Tonkin

    To the optimist, Twitter offers a broadening of discourse from the local to the global, allowing widely geographically distributed individuals to ‘socialise across social and geographical boundaries’. Twitter as a medium of discourse has the power to amplify reactions; virtual proximity enables reactions to be shared rapidly and amplified by the group. ‘Swarms’ may develop as a result of incoming information, such as news stories shared through the media or information released by activist groups. Alongside virtual proximity, social or geographical, comes a ‘disinhibition effect‘ irreverently immortalised as the Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory: dissociative anonymity insulates participants from the swarm; asynchronicity permits individuals to ‘fire-and-forget’, the scale of the swarm may be difficult to gauge by participants and so forth.

    Goldstone et al. suggest that such swarms may occur spontaneously, in a manner emergent solely from local interactions, creating groupings that ‘no individual may intend, comprehend, or even perceive’, an argument extended to the Twitter platform by various commentators, such as Näkki who defines swarming as ‘participation in some activities and tasks without formal commitment’. Twitter as an extensible, geographically delocalised communication network frequently displays patterns of activity that respond to to this description, at least to an abbreviated extent; these are mediated in part through hashtags, described by Bruns and Burgess as ‘ad hoc publics’.

    Such patterns are often viewed positively - self-organised reactions to disaster or conflict, for example. However, in this presentation, we focus on the negative, analysing the ‘twitter mob’ as an example of such a swarm activity, taking as our primary dataset the example of 2012’s #royalprank alongside related hashtags and terms. We discuss the principles of emergence in massively parallel systems and explore the question of whether Twitter can usefully be modelled as a class of emergent system, notably a reactive system - that is, a system which ‘reacts in parallel to many concurrent inputs, and its behaviours, outputs and effects, [whose responses are] not just a function of the values of its inputs but also of their variety, of the order in which they arrive, of their timing, of their arrival speeds and so forth’.

    At 3:15pm to 3:45pm, Wednesday 10th April

    In GF3, George Fox Building, Lancaster University

  • Uses and risks of microblogging in organisations

    by Soureh Latif Shabgahi

    The latest predictions suggest that Twitter will have 250 million active users by the end of 2012. Microblogging, on Twitter and using other tools such as weibo and yammer, is the most recent social phenomena of Web 2.0 enabling users to broadcast information about their activities, opinions and status, as well as to receive quick notifications. Users can stay connected to others through their computers and mobile phones. This paper reviews research studies of the effects of microblogging in organisational settings partly with a view to establishing an empirical basis for local policies on how to manage risk.

    The review is based on a thematic analysis of literature collected in October 2012, comprising around 30 papers on enterprise microblogging (EMB), defined as use of microblogging primarily with internal audiences behind the firewall. The analysis led to the development of a generic framework identifying themes of enterprise microblogging.

    As regards use of microblogging, the framework identifies several concepts that have been very influential among researchers in the field, such as awareness/sense of connectedness. In addition, forming relationships, discussion, sharing knowledge/information, learning, record information for future reference, coordination and reputation management have been further uses found in EMB.

    As regards risks, themes identified in EMB literature include difficulty/unfamiliarity in using microblogging, distraction and wasting time, noise-to-value ratio, privacy of users, security of the organisation and restrictions on messages.

    The review discusses possible guidelines and policies to manage perceived risk. For instance, continuously emphasizing the usefulness of internal systems and providing training for early adopters and users is commonly proposed as a way to help reduce difficulty/unfamiliarity in using microblogging, distraction and issue of time.

    The framework has been introduced as a useful guide for other researchers to graphically represent issues around microblogging and it is hospitable to expansion for use in further contexts. Other researchers could apply the framework and compare existing findings with microblogging users in other sectors, such as educators using microblogging for research and in teaching. The framework could also be used for comparing other technologies apart from web2.0/microblogging.

    At 3:15pm to 3:45pm, Wednesday 10th April

    In GF4, George Fox Building, Lancaster University

  • More than just passing notes in class? Twitter backchannels as new literacy practice

    by Tony McNeill

    The focus of this study is the conference behaviours of academic users of Twitter, a social networking/microblogging service that allows users to view and send short messages from mobile phones as well as computers and other internet-enabled devices. Twitter is being used increasingly as a means of continuing and extending dialogue, commentary and networking amongst academic conference participants and is rapidly becoming the default technology used to support what is known as the ‘backchannel’.

    The backchannel is the term used to designate the digital communications space used to sustain primarily - but not exclusively - textual interactions alongside live spoken presentations delivered in a physical environment. The backchannel was first employed in large technology conferences in the USA and was enabled by lightweight synchronous communications tools such as IRC (internet-relay chat). The growing adoption of Twitter has led to Twitter-enabled backchannels – both ‘official’ and ‘unofficial’ - becoming an increasingly common feature of many academic conferences all over the world. What was once a marginal practice specific to technology conferences is now moving into the mainstream.

    There has been some debate in the blogosphere, as well as in academic publications, about the digital backchannel in general and the Twitter-enabled backchannel in particular. However, in the context of digital backchannel practices entering the mainstream as a result of the rapid uptake of Twitter and the ubiquity of portable and hand-held devices enabling its convenient use, it’s time to revisit the question of the conference backchannel and its contribution to conference participation and community learning.

    This paper reports on my analysis of the backchannel interactions at one academic conference. I will argue that this Twitter-enabled backchannel constitutes a laminated discursive space in which the conference participants perform multiple identities. The Twitter-enabled backchannel raises some interesting questions about new forms of conference participation, about personal learning networks and the changing nature of collegiality in a digital age.

    At 3:50pm to 4:20pm, Wednesday 10th April

    In GF4, George Fox Building, Lancaster University

  • Sociotechnical mediation in learning communities: Twitter in distance learning

    by Xavier Inghilterra

    Our proposed article highlights the potential of educational micro-blogging as a mediation system to support the process of distance learning. Noting that networking practices have invested heavily classrooms today, we postulate that this dynamic can be used to good effect to mobilize the active participation of learners and increasing their motivation. If social ties happening during training play a vital role in the learning process, Twitter is a device that is well suited to this paradigm shift by creating rich interactions from a singular model of communication.

    A participant observation, conducted as part tutoral with level II students, is to place the learner at the heart of a pedagogical device allowing it to interact with peers and with the tutor during the course or off training time. In our research, immersion combined with playful community dynamics of social networks is a fruitful heuristic for individualized training pathways and suggest ways less academic promote informal learning.

    After a review of the literature on educational potential of micro-blogging as in some leading universities, we describe our own use of Twitter in distance education and classroom training. If in our industrialization process of training the prerogatives of the tutor are evolving, social mediation is nonetheless essential because the use of information technology and communication education should not supplant the pedagogical. This mediation is a multimodal communication between tutor and learners based mainly on a LMS platform and blog dedicated using both the Twitter widget that displays the latest feeds. In this way, Twitter allows to effectively link teaching resources and users always ʺon lineʺ in a narrative style that is more akin to the domestic sphere of students.

    But to win the adhesion of the largest number, so it is essential to get into the flow of our students practice, using their own socio-technical devices and finally to establish a lasting relationship without cleavage between academic and domestic practices : the interactions that are established during a confcall can also be extended outside training time in the private sphere. The tutor finally becomes a ʺfacilitatorʺ who will guide the community of learners to enable easier access to learning materials and to distinguish the relevant knowledge by acquiring good reflexes in information monitoring.

    Our experiment shows, in the light of socio-constructivist theories, sharing and dissemination of information, through the use of Twitter, creating new collaborative methods and develop a culture of participation in communities of learners, like review groups in particular.

    At 3:50pm to 4:20pm, Wednesday 10th April

    In GF2, George Fox Building, Lancaster University

  • Twitter, politics and gender: Why are Italian women politicians less interactive than men?

    by Stefania Spina

    Twitter is increasingly attracting the attention from Italian politicians; more than 70% of Italian Members of Parliament have a Twitter account and use it to communicate with their followers.

    One of the emergent discursive features of the microblogging service - its conversationality - has been found to be a potential source of change in political discourse: while television discourse is monodirectional and does not entail an interaction between politicians and their audience, Twitter interactions are fundamentally dialogic. They can be described as short, public conversations that share a double audience: a general one (the followers), and a specific one, selected through addressivity and the use of mentions.

    In order to analyse the different attitudes of women and men Italian politicians towards the use of mentions on Twitter, I extracted the 300 most recent tweets posted by a sample of 24 politicians (12 women and 12 men). Given that mentions are significantly more frequent in men’s than in women’s interactions, I tried to analyze the Twitter data from three different perspectives:

    • the use of mentions to start a conversation
    • the use of mentions to answer a question
    • the different types of words that tend to co-occur with mentions

    The results of this study suggest that Italian women politicians are far less inclined than men to adopt one of the most relevant discursive features introduced in political discourse by social media: the continuous interaction with other users, sometimes giving rise to complex and extended conversations.

    At 3:50pm to 4:20pm, Wednesday 10th April

    In GF3, George Fox Building, Lancaster University

  • Twitter Q&A with Nathan Jurgenson (@nathanjurgenson)

    by Nathan Jurgenson and Johnny Unger

    Nathan Jurgenson’s recent work has strongly challenged two assumptions that pervade both popular and scholarly writing on social media and mobile technology: first, the notion he disagrees with and terms ‘digital dualism’, i.e. that online and offline are largely separate spaces; and second, the idea that offline can be equated with real life, while the online is merely virtual, and that logging off might cure all of society’s ills and makes one more human, which he calls ‘the IRL fetish’.

    In this Twitter-based Q&A session, participants will have a chance to ask Nathan about his work, and to discuss how his ideas pose challenges to the nascent research paradigms taking shape around Twitter and other microblogging platforms. Participants (whether physically present in Lancaster or participating from another location) are strongly encouraged to read two of Nathan’s articles prior to the session:

    "When Atoms Meet Bits: Social Media, the Mobile Web and Augmented Revolution" in Future Internet:

    "The IRL Fetish" essay in The New Inquiry:

    At 4:30pm to 5:30pm, Wednesday 10th April

    In GF1, George Fox Building, Lancaster University

  • Dinner

    Dinner at Barker House Farm, Cartmel College (on campus)

    At 7:00pm to 7:30pm, Wednesday 10th April

    In Barker House Farm, Cartmel College, Lancaster University

  • Facebook is like Disco and Twitter is like Punk

    by Rebekka Kill

    Facebook is like Disco and Twitter is like Punk

    At 7:30pm to 8:00pm, Wednesday 10th April

    In Barker House Farm, Cartmel College, Lancaster University

Thursday 11th April 2013

  • Conceptualising Twitter as a discourse system: Discursive practices in political online communication

    by Mark Dang-Anh

    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.

    At 9:35am to 10:05am, Thursday 11th April

    In GF2, George Fox Building, Lancaster University

  • Factors influencing academics’ use of microblogging tools in teaching and learning

    by Nordiana Ahmad Kharman Shah

    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.

    At 9:35am to 10:05am, Thursday 11th April

    In GF4, George Fox Building, Lancaster University

  • Pragmatic variation among German Twitter users

    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:

    Morphosyntactic variables:

    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’

    Deviant orthography:

    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.

    At 9:35am to 10:05am, Thursday 11th April

    In GF3, George Fox Building, Lancaster University

  • A discourse-historical approach to media framing of activists use of Twitter

    by Alexander David Pask-Hughes

    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.

    At 10:10am to 10:40am, Thursday 11th April

    In GF2, George Fox Building, Lancaster University

  • Exploring Twitter-based research methods: A critical review focused on mobility disruptions

    by Holly-Anne Barber

    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.

    At 10:10am to 10:40am, Thursday 11th April

    In GF3, George Fox Building, Lancaster University

  • Whose piper and whose tune? Discursive practices in informal learning events on Twitter

    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.

    At 10:10am to 10:40am, Thursday 11th April

    In GF4, George Fox Building, Lancaster University

  • Break


    At 10:40am to 11:10am, Thursday 11th April

    In GF Foyer, George Fox Building, Lancaster University

  • Plenary: Working and playing on science Twitter

    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.

    At 11:15am to 12:15pm, Thursday 11th April

    In GF1, George Fox Building, Lancaster University

  • Lunch


    At 12:15pm to 1:15pm, Thursday 11th April

    In GF Foyer, George Fox Building, Lancaster University

  • The tweeting zone

    by Noreen Dunnett

    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.

    At 1:25pm to 1:55pm, Thursday 11th April

    In GF3, George Fox Building, Lancaster University

    Coverage link

  • Twitter as professional practice: A case study of cricket journalism: @aggerscricket

    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.

    At 1:25pm to 1:55pm, Thursday 11th April

    In GF2, George Fox Building, Lancaster University