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Twitter and Society

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Edited By Katrin Weller, Axel Bruns, Jean Burgess, Merja Mahrt and Cornelius Puschmann

This book has won the CHOICE Outstanding Academic Title award 2014.

Since its launch in 2006, Twitter has evolved from a niche service to a mass phenomenon; it has become instrumental for everyday communication as well as for political debates, crisis communication, marketing, and cultural participation. But the basic idea behind it has stayed the same: users may post short messages (tweets) of up to 140 characters and follow the updates posted by other users. Drawing on the experience of leading international Twitter researchers from a variety of disciplines and contexts, this is the first book to document the various notions and concepts of Twitter communication, providing a detailed and comprehensive overview of current research into the uses of Twitter. It also presents methods for analyzing Twitter data and outlines their practical application in different research contexts.

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Part II: Perspectives and Practices

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PART ^ Perspectives and Practices 2 interior_Bruns_postproofread.indd 135 10/15/13 9:09 AM interior_Bruns_postproofread.indd 136 10/15/13 9:09 AM ChAPTeR ^ Alex Leavitt From #FollowFriday to YOlO Exploring the Cultural Salience of Twitter Memes flourishing memes like #ff or #occupy are affected both by social behaviour and technical features such as trending topics I, For one, welcome our IntroductIon Since the introduction of hashtags to Twitter in mid-2007 (Messina, 2007), these organic, categorical markers have become the primary means to mark, contextualise, and participate in the informational, social practices of the pop- ular microblogging platform. Frequently, Twitter users use hashtags, though keywords, images, and URLs are also employed, in order to spread so-called “memes”—units of cultural information, akin to their biological equivalent, genes, that develop iteratively as they move from individual to individual, like jokes, rumours, and iconic artifacts of popular culture (Dawkins, 1976). While traditionally the meme concept has referred to any iterative piece of culture, Internet users and subcultures have adopted and adapted the term to apply to rapidly spreading, momentarily salient in-jokes; recognisable images (and image forms); and other artifacts like viral videos: all of which have collectively 11 perspectives interior_Bruns_postproofread.indd 137 10/15/13 9:09 AM 138 | Part 2: Perspectives and Practices #perspectives become known as “internet memes” (Burgess, 2008; Knobel & Lankshear, 2007; Shifman, 2012). On Twitter, memes generally take the form of a hashtag that gets passed around quickly, grows through participatory iteration as users encounter them in their feeds, gains high...

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