Friday, March 19, 2010

Twitter Research

I enjoy finding research on new or emerging media.  Here's a study (abstract here, full pdf here) about the use of Twitter during the 2009 Red River floods in the U.S. and Canada.  The authors find an interesting "bottom-up" organization of information.  Here's one section:
In another notable part of the information production cycle, Twitterers use personal skills and expertise to contribute to the information space through innovation.

Five of the eight Flood Specific Service accounts sent precise flood stage measurements at regular intervals. The regularity of tweet posting intervals and text for these streams indicated that they were auto-generated “bots.” Their tweets were often retweeted and re-sourced. Within days of account creation and leading up to the Fargo crest, flood information from their tweets was spreading throughout the broad Twitter network, allowing users to follow water level changes in almost real-time.
Social media are more than a toy, they're a way for communication not just among real people, but a way for government agencies to reach out to real people, who in turn can spread the word.  The news media also play a role here, both as message senders but also message readers, listening to the conversation for story ideas, breaking news, etc.

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