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Organization or Conversation in Twitter: A Case Study of Chatterboxing
Proceedings of the American Society for Information Science & Technology (2012)
  • Heather Lea Moulaison, University of Missouri
  • C. Sean Burns, University of Missouri
This paper reports on a case study of Twitter posts (tweets) by chatterboxers to study whether theories of organization of information are applicable to the study of user-supplied labels in Twitter. Chatterboxing is the act of watching a televised event such as the Super Bowl and using a second screen to engage with others, primarily in real time. Researchers have used communication theory as a framework for study of Twitter, considering both #hashtags and @mentions to be primarily communicative. To ascertain whether #hashtags may be fundamentally different and amenable to study as organizational conventions as well, we first compared differences between usage of #hashtags and @mentions during the Super Bowl by taking tweets from three locations identified as heavily invested in the event (hometowns of the teams and the location of the game: Boston, NYC, Indianapolis) and tweets from locations that were not invested (Dallas, Miami, Seattle). Non-parametric statistical comparisons were made between tweets from the three invested and non-invested groups to ascertain whether the uses of labeling conventions were identical. Next a qualitative analysis of a subset of non-location specific tweets supplied information about the content of tweets, the aboutness of #hashtags, and the placement of #hashtags in the tweets. Our findings indicate that #hashtags and @mentions do have two separate functions but that location has a positive influence on their statistical dependency. We also find that #hashtags are used as organizational mechanisms and can reflect aboutness. Specifically, #hashtags are used to describe in order to categorize and to retrieve in order to follow or join a conversation, and future studies should be able to use theories of organization of information to analyze these labels as a way of complementing their otherwise communicative nature.
  • Twitter,
  • hashtags,
  • mentions,
  • aboutness,
  • organization,
  • conversation,
  • real-time communication,
  • chatterboxing,
  • geographic location
Publication Date
Publisher Statement
Prepared for the 75th Association for Information Science and Technology (ASIS&T) Annual Meeting (Baltimore: Oct. 26-30, 2012). DOI: 10.1002/meet.14504901185
Citation Information
Heather Lea Moulaison and C. Sean Burns. "Organization or Conversation in Twitter: A Case Study of Chatterboxing" Proceedings of the American Society for Information Science & Technology Vol. 49 Iss. 1 (2012) p. 1 - 11 ISSN: 2373-9231
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