Enabled backchannel: conference Twitter use by digital humanists

C. Ross, M. Terras, C. Warwick, A. Welsh
2011 Journal of Documentation  
2011) 'Enabled backchannel : conference Twitter use by digital humanists.', Journal of documentation., 67 (2). pp. 214-237. Further information on publisher's website: http://dx. The full-text may be used and/or reproduced, and given to third parties in any format or medium, without prior permission or charge, for personal research or study, educational, or not-for-prot purposes provided that: • a full bibliographic reference is made to the original source • a link is made to the metadata
more » ... in DRO • the full-text is not changed in any way The full-text must not be sold in any format or medium without the formal permission of the copyright holders. Please consult the full DRO policy for further details. Abstract: Purpose To date, few studies have been undertaken to make explicit how microblogging technologies are used by and can benefit scholars. This paper investigates the use of Twitter by an academic community in various conference settings, and poses the following questions: does the use of a Twitter enabled backchannel enhance the conference experience, collaboration and the co-construction of knowledge? How is microblogging used within academic conferences, and can we articulate the benefits it may bring to a discipline? Design/methodology/approach This paper considers the use of Twitter as a digital backchannel by the Digital Humanities community, taking as its focus postings to Twitter during three different international 2009 conferences. The resulting archive of 4574 "tweets" was analysed using various quantitative and qualitative methods including a qualitative categorization of twitter posts by open coded analysis, a quantitative examination of user conventions, and text analysis tools. Prominent Tweeters were identified and a small qualitative survey was undertaken to ascertain individuals" attitudes towards a Twitter enabled backchannel. Findings Conference hashtagged Twitter activity does not constitute a single distributed conversation but, rather multiple monologues with a few intermittent, discontinuous, loosely joined dialogues between users. The digital backchannel constitutes a multidirectional complex space in which the users make notes, share resources, hold discussions and ask questions as well as establishing a clear individual online presence. The use of Twitter as a conference platform enables the community to expand communication and participation in events amongst its members. The analysis revealed the close Ross, C. Terras, M. knit nature of the DH researcher community, which may be somewhat intimidating for those new to the field or conference. Practical implications This study has indicated that, given Twitter is becoming increasingly important for academic communities, new, dedicated methodologies for the analysis and understanding of Tweet based corpora are necessary. Routinely used textual analysis tools cannot be applied to corpora of tweets in a straightforward manner, due to the creative and fragmentary nature of language used within microblogging. In this paper, a method has been suggesting to categorize tweets using open coded analysis to facilitate understanding of tweet based corpora, which could be adopted elsewhere. Originality/value This paper is the first exhaustive study that we are aware of that concentrates on how microblogging technologies such as twitter are used by and can benefit scholars. This data set provides both a valuable insight into the prevalence of a variety of Twitter practices within the constraints of a conference setting, and highlights the need for methodologies to be developed to analyse social media streams such as twitter feeds. It also provides a comprehensive bibliography of other research into microblogging.
doi:10.1108/00220411111109449 fatcat:74qrfzfh6zc6pjkneidgt7z2eu