Thursday, May 24, 2012

Mapping Australian Twitter discussions

Associate Professor Axel Bruns, who has previously done marvelous work mapping Australian blogs and tracking social media activity around the Queensland bushfires, has released his team's latest research on mapping the Australian Twittersphere.

Drawing (slightly paraphrased) from the joint CCI and Queensland University of Technology media release:
With as many as two million Australians now using Twitter to exchange news, views and information, the internet phenomenon has become a focal element in the nation’s social discourse, say Axel and Dr Jean Burgess.

By analysing topics of interest and concern to Australians the researchers built a ‘network map’ showing the connections between different issues and areas. “Just as newspapers have circulation reports and TV has its ratings, it is important to understand the role which new media are playing in our society,” they say.
“The map offers us a completely different way to view Australian society – not by where people live or what job they do, but by how they connect to each other through Twitter,” said Professor Bruns.
“You can use the map to study developments in Australian politics, natural disasters or trends in public thought and opinion,” Dr Burgess says. “It offers us a completely fresh way to view the discourse that is taking place between Australians or different groups.

“It shows there are multiple, overlapping publics, interacting and interweaving in time and space across Australia.”

The map also revealed which Twitter networks are isolated from the Australian ‘mainland’ tending to connect among themselves more than with other networks. These include evangelical groups, cities like Adelaide and Perth, followers of pop stars, and various sports and beer lovers.

The researchers based their map on data from 950,000 Australian Twitter accounts, but say that the national Twitter population is estimated to be as high as 1.8-2 million. The world Twitter population is now thought to be around 200 million – about a quarter that of rival social medium Facebook.

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