A key theme in our recent research is the place of Twitter in the wider media ecology, globally as well as in specific domestic contexts. There are a number of ways that the relationship between Twitter and other media forms and platforms may be examined, and our papers at the AoIR conference in Manchester in mid-October pursued two directions, in particular: we investigated the use of Twitter as a backchannel to major television events, and explored the patterns of sharing mainstream news content on Twitter in Australia, building on our ATNIX initiative.
My colleagues Stephen Harrington, Tim Highfield and I recently published a brief outline of our approach to conceptualising the various dimensions of the relationship between Twitter and television, in a publication by the European “Transforming Audiences” research project; our joint paper at AoIR built on this framework to specifically explore the use of Twitter during the pan-European and Australian broadcasts of the Eurovision Song Contest 2012. The event highlights the importance of Twitter as a complement to live broadcasts – even in Australia, the delayed telecast on SBS becomes a live event again, and generates substantial Twitter activity in the process. Tim and I presented our paper on Eurovision as a double act; here are our slides and audio. A journal article on this topic should follow soon, hopefully.
Tim also led an investigation of a very different, but nonetheless widely tweeted live television event: the 2012 Tour de France. Here, audiences require even more stamina than they do for Eurovision: participation in the #tdf hashtag unfolds over several weeks, and involves a committed and at times deeply self-ironic television audience. Here's how Tim tells the story:
Moving beyond television, but maintaining an emphasis on real-time communication, our continuing work on the Australian Twitter News Index (ATNIX) demonstrates how Australian news audiences on Twitter respond to the publication of news and commentary by the country's leading outlets. As ATNIX continues, we're increasingly able to track both short- and long-term trends, and are beginning to gain a more comprehensive perspective on what themes generate interest in the Australian Twittersphere; while that userbase is far from representative for the overall population, its demographics are such that it may particularly well reflect those Australians who follow news and politics on a daily basis, as Tim Dunlop recently noted at The Drum. In other words, news organisations of Australia: the Twitterati may not be 'the people' as such, but it's very much possible that they're your people – you might want to start treating them accordingly.
At any rate: here's what our work on ATNIX has brought to light so far – slides and audio below, and a book chapter will follow in the not-too-distant future.