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Cornelius PuschmannKatrin WellerUniversity of DüsseldorfDoing a small-scale diachronic Twitter user study: concept and code5th International ConferenceCommunities & Technologies29th June, 2011 Workshop C:Brisbane Making Sense of Twitter
Research questions #2 - method#1- content How can we combineHow can we describe the multiple methodologies, e.g.behavior of ordinary* German - quant./computationalTwitter users over a period of - qual./close readingtime? - ethnography ...?
Rationalethick analysis rich, ambiguous data small vs. BIG data
The studySample10 German and Austrian Twitter usersage between 23 and 325 male, 5 femaledifferent backgrounds (student, nurse, executive, journalist) Content analysis users‘ tweets tracked for one month (with permission)Email interviewusers answered 10 open questionsabout different aspects of their usage
Questions1. When and how did you ﬁrst become aware of Twitter?2. How is Twitter integrated into your daily routine?3. What devices do you use to access Twitter?4. Has your use of Twitter changed over time?5. What other social media services do you use?6. Do you use them to communicate with t.s. people as on Twitter?7. How important is publishing photos to you?8. What prompts you to follow someone?9. What prompts you to unfollow somone?10. Who do you picture as your readers?11. What wouldn‘t you tweet about and why?12. Which advantages do you see in your use of Twitter?13. Which disadvantages do you see in your use?
10. Who do you picture as your readers?That‘s a tough one[..] I think many of my followers have a sense ofhumor similar to my own. Add to that a number who like somethingabout my tweets and just read them, without doing anything further withthem. (User 1)Phew, I don‘t really picture anyone speciﬁc. Since reaching 2,000followers I think more about what I tweet, but what I end up typing intothat text ﬁeld just goes “out into the Internet“. (User 2)I‘ve never really thought about that. I just wonder why anyone wouldcare, apart from people who know me personally. (User 7)People like myself. But I‘m surprised sometimes when people reply to mewho come from entirely different areas of interest. (User 11)
11. What wouldn‘t you tweet about and why?I try to only tweet what I would also like to read [...] Even when mytweets seem personal, that‘s often not true [..] I would never tweet„I‘m having trouble with my parents“ or „my girlfriend is getting onmy nerves“. (User 1)Recently I just try to shut up when I don‘t have anything nice tosay[..] I try to refrain from bitching, bad-mouthing, and complaintswithout entertainment value. (User 2)Body functions. I try not to tweet that I have a headache. (User 4)Information about my workplace[..] I wouldn‘t post anything onTwitter that I also wouldn‘t tell someone I had just met or wasbrieﬂy acquainted with. (User 7)
Content analysis Usage patterns vary greatly from user to user and from one usage episode to another. Usage pattern of ordinary* users are likely to differ from groups using Twitter professionally in a number of ways.Interviews The users we interviewed were aware of the publicness of their tweets and balanced privacy concerns with the opportunity to connect with friends. Different user types and usage episodes can be discerned by connecting CA and an ethnographic approach.