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Twitter and Society


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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Epilogue: Why Study Twitter? Cornelius Puschmann, Axel Bruns, Merja Mahrt, Katrin Weller, and Jean Burgess 425


^ EPILoGuE Cornelius Puschmann, Axel Bruns, Merja Mahrt, Katrin Weller, and Jean Burgess Epilogue Why Study Twitter? society in 140 characters: why Twitter research is necessary and important #ftw Each of the thirty-one contributions in this volume implicitly spells out its own answer to this question. Surprisingly perhaps even for such a highly interdisci- plinary volume as this one, these answers vary considerably in their approaches, their objectives, and their underlying assumptions about the object of study. This diversity of scholarly perspectives on Twitter, barely half a decade since it first emerged as a popular platform, highlights its versatility. Beginning as a side project to a now-forgotten podcasting platform, rising to popularity as a social network service focussed around mundane communication and there- fore widely lambasted as a cesspool of vanity and triviality by incredulous journalists (including technology journalists), it was later embraced by those same journalists, governments, and businesses as a crucial source of real-time information on everything from natural disasters to celebrity gossip, and from debates over sexual violence to Vatican politics. interior_Bruns_postproofread.indd 425 10/15/13 9:10 AM 426 | Twitter and Society Studies of Twitter not only use many approaches (from computational mod- elling to critical inquiry), they also analyse a very wide range of phenomena (from fandom to disaster preparedness), and follow many different, implicit assumptions about Twitter’s core purpose. Is Twitter a site of public debate? A tool for journalism, activism, education, and public relations? A data source for scientists, pollsters, and marketers? The mass...

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