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Networks of digital humanities scholars: The informational and social uses and gratifications of Twitter
Journal of Big Data and Society (2015)
  • Anabel Quan-Haase, Western University
  • Kim Martin, Western University
  • Lori McCay-Peet, Western University
Big data research is currently split on whether and to what extent Twitter can be characterised as an informational or social network. We contribute to this line of inquiry through an investigation of digital humanities scholars’ uses and gratifications of Twitter. We conducted a thematic analysis of 25 semistructured interview transcripts to learn about these scholars’ professional use of Twitter. Our findings show that Twitter is considered a critical tool for informal communication within DH invisible colleges, functioning at varying levels as both an informational network (learning to ‘Twitter’ and maintaining awareness) and a social network (imagining audiences and engaging other digital humanists). We find that Twitter follow relationships reflect common academic interests and are closely tied to scholars’ preexisting social ties and conference or event co-attendance. The concept of the invisible college continues to be relevant but requires revisiting. The invisible college formed on Twitter is messy, consisting of overlapping social contexts (professional, personal, and public), scholars with different habits of engagement, and both formal and informal ties. Our research illustrates the value of using multiple methods to explore the complex questions arising from big data studies and points toward future research that could implement big data techniques on a small scale, focusing on sub-topics or emerging fields, to expose the nature of scholars’ invisible colleges made visible on Twitter.
  • Uses and gratifications,
  • digital humanities (DH),
  • scholars,
  • Twitter,
  • social media,
  • big data,
  • social networks
Publication Date
Citation Information
Anabel Quan-Haase, Kim Martin and Lori McCay-Peet. "Networks of digital humanities scholars: The informational and social uses and gratifications of Twitter" Journal of Big Data and Society Vol. January-June (2015)
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