Notes from Twitter and Microblogging: Political, Professional and Personal Practices. 10 April

These are notes from the Twitter and Micro-blogging conference at Lancaster University.  The full programme can be found on Lanyard.

Elizabeth Merkhofer from Georgetown University  is speaking on : search as sociality

An ethnography of a hashtag situated on a page rather than in terms of users but rather concerned with social ordering in a web page. Using micro-meme (Huang et al 2012) as a short phrase that generates a spike of activities.

Following a hashtag is a search function but located within Twitter as a whole using the Twitter web page (rather than API). While the webpage is temporally ordered, the temporality is contained within the web page and is not related to “real” time and is forgotten very quickly.

Hastag search defines search as precisely the phrase being used so any variations are not ‘found’ but otherwise can be flexible in terms of content – eg, #tenthings … rarely actually ten things.

Retweeting and rephrasing: shows users influence each other in translation of the questions/ topics as an ambient affiliation. This affiliation different from the spike of RT’s of specific Tweet.

Micro-memes tend to focus on social situations within limited interpersonal relations. Relates to Marwick & boyd on context collapse.

Found “you” as the most common term but used in different ways-  as: calling you out; as ‘we’ or as ‘me’

Further work include interface between qualitative and quantitative analysis as well as continuing on # as a social ordering mechanism.


Data collected Sept – Dec 2012 as ethnographic participant observation using notes augmented with some screen shots – using the ‘trending’ sidebar to identify popular hashtags.

Interpersonal dimension of hastags refers to intertextual eg, RT behaviours allowing the tracing of relations/ links as a cascade of RTs but did not undertake a network analysis.

How micro were the micro-memes – enough to show up on hashtag aggregators so the ‘micro’ refers to the duration. Therefore, is meme the best term as meme implies a viral element as well as longevity. But also meme involves going beyond the personal context to take on life of its own.



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