Processing Publications Twitter — Snurb, 2 November 2012
Twitter and the Emergence of ‘Big Data’ Research in the Humanities

In a previous post, I mentioned the new M/C Journal article on the impact which Twitter, Inc.’s tightening of its API rules has on research into the uses of Twitter. The use of data from the Twitter API is just one example of a broader development here, which is now frequently described as ‘big data’ research – new research approaches (or the adaptation of existing research methods) for dealing with increasingly large, digital datasets on social interactions in online spaces.

In this context, here are two presentations from my recent conference tour of Europe. First, I was invited to consider our ability to use ‘big data’ on social network usage to shed new light on the transformation of the Habermasian ‘public sphere’ in an increasingly Internet-based media ecology, as part of an ICA-sponsored panel at the European Communication Conference (ECREA) in Istanbul. My slides and audio are below; Maria Bakardjieva and Peter Lunt were the other two presenters of the panel.

Social Media, Big Data, and the Public Sphere from Axel Bruns

A week or so before ECREA, I was in Copenhagen to participate in a symposium on "Data – Lost, Found, and Made" which was organised by Klaus Bruhn Jensen at the Centre for Communication and Computing at the University of Copenhagen. There, I presented a wider overview of our work in the Mapping Online Publics project, and considered the overall role which our data-driven research approaches might play in the arsenal of humanities research methodologies, in the context of what David Berry has called the "computational turn" towards digital humanities research. (We also reprised that discussion in a panel at the Manchester AoIR conference a few days later, based on the Copenhagen symposium.)

Here are the slides and audio from the Copenhagen event – and you might also like to have a look at my live blogging from the symposium.

Twitter, Big Data, and the Search for Meaning: Methodology in Progress from Axel Bruns


In related news, today I spoke about our Twitter research at the University of Queensland Digital Humanities Symposium. That talk went over similar ground, discussing ‘big data’ Twitter research work as an example of where the digital humanities are heading. Here are the slides and audio:

About the Author

Dr Axel Bruns leads the QUT Social Media Research Group. He is an ARC Future Fellow and Professor in the Creative Industries Faculty at Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane, Australia. Bruns is the author of Blogs, Wikipedia, Second Life and Beyond: From Production to Produsage (2008) and Gatewatching: Collaborative Online News Production (2005), and a co-editor of Twitter and Society, A Companion to New Media Dynamics and Uses of Blogs (2006). He is a Chief Investigator in the ARC Centre of Excellence for Creative Industries and Innovation. His research Website is at, and he tweets as @snurb_dot_info.

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