Workshop C

Making Sense of Twitter: Quantitative Analysis Using Twapperkeeper and Other Tools

  • Axel Bruns, ARC Centre of Excellence for Creative Industries and Innovation, Queensland University of Technology, Australia, a.bruns AT qut.edu.au
  • Jean Burgess, ARC Centre of Excellence for Creative Industries and Innovation, Queensland University of Technology, Australia, je.burgess AT qut.edu.au

Introduction

As the use of Twitter has become more commonplace throughout many nations, its role in public discussion has also increased. This has been evident in contexts ranging from political discussion through commentary on sporting and entertainment events to the coverage of natural disasters. Research into the use of Twitter in such contexts has also developed rapidly, aided by substantial advancements in quantitative and qualitative methodologies for capturing, processing, analysing, and visualising Twitter updates by large groups of users. Recent work has especially highlighted the role of the Twitter hashtag – a short keyword, prefixed with the hash symbol ‘#’ – as a means of coordinating a distributed discussion between more or less large groups of users, who do not need to be connected through existing ‘follower’ networks. For humanities and social sciences researchers interested in studying public communication through social media, this means that we face the challenge of developing new tools and methodologies for processing and analysing these potentially very large sets of data derived from Twitter.

Goals of the Workshop

This workshop will introduce participants to advanced methods for processing and analysing data derived from the Twitter microblogging platform. Taking a hands-on approach which immediately introduces participants to working with actual data, initial work will focus on Twitter #hashtag communities, examining their communication for key themes, conversation networks, and communicative patterns through time. Through the workshop, participants will become familiar with the following key tools:

  • Twapperkeeper.com as a source of Twitter hashtag data;
  • the scripting language Gawk as a means of processing Twitter data in CSV format;
  • the network visualisation software Gephi as a tool for generating static and dynamic visualisations of conversation networks.

Additionally, basic skills in Excel are required for further data processing work.

Further time in the session will be devoted to a broader discussion of the methodological implications of using these and other tools and techniques. We encourage participants to share their own methodological advances for the study of Twitter and other social networks, and invite submissions discussing these approaches.

Submission

We invite participants to submit a brief overview of their current or intended research interests and approaches in relation to Twitter (and social media more broadly) before 30 April 2011, including references to published outcomes or links to work in progress. Space in the workshop will be limited in order to enable fruitful collaboration. Submissions should be made to a.bruns@qut.edu.au.

Organisers

Assoc. Prof. Axel Bruns is a Chief Investigator in the ARC Centre of Excellence for Creative Industries and Innovation.

Dr. Jean Burgess is a Senior Research fellow in the ARC Centre of Excellence for Creative Industries and Innovation.

Participants

  • Kinda Al-Sayed, University College London, UK
  • Sukunesan Sinnapan, Swinburne University, Australia
  • Christopher Mascaro, Drexel University, USA
  • Cornelius Puschmann & Katrin Weller, University of Düsseldorf, Germany
  • Monica Barratt, Curtin University, Australia
  • Aneesha Bakharia, QUT, Australia