One of the highlights of last month’s conference adventures was the IR14 roundtable ‘Twitter and Society and Beyond’, for which I was one participant among a cast of thousands a dozen or so. Not only did this roundtable gather together some really big names in Internet Research, discussing trends and future directions in Twitter and social media research, and the key questions and challenges we need to address, but it also served as the launch for the new volume Twitter and Society. The book, published by Peter Lang, is a 31 chapter extravaganza edited by Katrin Weller, Axel Bruns, Jean Burgess, Merja Mahrt, and Cornelius Puschmann, and includes a great range of pieces covering different Twitter concepts, methods, perspectives, and practices; there are chapters on privacy, crisis communication, memes, quantitative and qualitative approaches to studying Twitter, politics, automated accounts, brand communication, fan practices, scholarly tweeting, journalism, and many more! The full list of chapters and contributors can be seen over at the Social Media Research Group site, while the book also has its own Twitter account: @twitsocbook (and here’s a photo, via Axel Bruns, of the panel (representing nearly a third of the total contributors!) with the new book):

Following the Yellow Jersey
I have a chapter in this volume: ‘Following the Yellow Jersey: Tweeting the Tour de France’, which expands upon some of the ideas I presented in our ECREA paper last year. It’s an exploration of the Twitter coverage of the Tour de France as both a sporting event and a media event, looking at fan-athlete connections but also examining how fans watching the television broadcast interact with the race as a text as well – in particular, I focus on the case of the Australian SBS broadcast and the tropes of tweeting along with this coverage. You can order the book as paperback and hardback through Peter Lang, Amazon, or the Book Depository, and the ebook version is coming soon!

Following the Yellow Jersey (inside the chapter)

Tim Highfield (2013). ‘Following the Yellow Jersey: Tweeting the Tour de France’. In K. Weller, A. Bruns, J. Burgess, M. Mahrt, & C. Puschmann (Eds.), Twitter and Society. Peter Lang: New York, NY. pp. 249-261.

This week, I also received another book in the post, Br(e)aking the News: Journalism, Politics and New Media; this volume, edited by Janey Gordon, Paul Rowinski, and Gavin Stewart, has some intriguing chapters and global perspectives on current journalistic practices and how news is being broken and reported – there are chapters here on the Leveson inquiry and phone-hacking, on Wikipedia, on mobile use in Nigeria, on framing of the Human Rights Act in the UK by politicians and journalists, and plenty more.

Sharing the News In this volume, Axel Bruns, Stephen Harrington, and I have a chapter entitled ‘Sharing the News: Dissemination of Links to Australian News Sites on Twitter’ – this piece again builds on work we presented last year, this time at IR13, and is an extended examination of the Australian Twitter News Index (ATNIX) work covered over at Mapping Online Publics, tracking patterns of linking to articles from different Australian news and opinion sites on Twitter. The new book is also published by Peter Lang, and can be ordered through the publisher website, Amazon, or the Book Depository.

Sharing the News (inside the chapter)

Axel Bruns, Tim Highfield, and Stephen Harrington (2013). ‘Sharing the News: Dissemination of Links to Australian News Sites on Twitter’. In J. Gordon, P. Rowinski, & G. Stewart (Eds.), Br(e)aking the News: Journalism, politics and new media. Peter Lang: New York, NY. pp. 181-209.

Twitter and Society; Br(e)aking the News


Last month, as outlined previously, I was involved in several conference papers presented in North America, first at Internet Research 14.0: Resistance and Appropriation (IR14) in Denver and then at the Compromised Data? New paradigms in social media theory and methods colloquium in Toronto. (I was also involved in a roundtable at IR14, but more on that will come in another post).

The papers I presented, both co-authored and solo, cover different topics around Twitter activity and Twitter research; these include a continuation of the studies we’ve been carrying out at QUT around Australian politics online, and an outline of the rationale and approach for the Mapping Movements project I’m involved in with Sky Croeser at Curtin (Sky also has some great notes about the Toronto colloquium on her site). There are other connections, though, to my previous work throughout these papers, albeit at times indirectly – indeed, I make some of these links in the presentations.

All of the slides for these presentations are now available, and they also include the audio from the day – this year I didn’t get sick before presenting, so the recordings should be mostly okay throughout (except when I wander off and start pointing things out on the projections… I also make no guarantees about the quality of the *content*). The slides can be found either through the individual links below, or by heading to the (cunningly-titled) ‘Conference Slides‘ page.

First up, at IR14, Axel Bruns, Theresa Sauter, and myself presented as part of a panel on Social Media and Elections. Our paper covered the (very) recent Australian federal election, including the patterns of activity and interlinking between politicians and candidates on Twitter:

‘#ausvotes Mark Two: Twitter in the 2013 Australian Federal Election’ – Axel Bruns, Tim Highfield, and Theresa Sauter

Immediately after that, I presented the first stages of my work around parody accounts on Twitter – this is all very exploratory, but I got some great feedback and suggestions following the presentation, and I’m looking forward to developing it further:

‘News via Voldemort: The role of parody and satire in topical discussions on Twitter’ – Tim Highfield

The next day, my final IR14 paper came in what ended up being a QUT/CCI panel on Celebrity Crises on Twitter, as unfortuantely not everyone could make it to Denver. The other papers (and all other papers presented by members of the Social Media Research Group at QUT) should be online soon – I’ll update this post with a link when that happens. In addition to studies of the Pope’s Twitter account and Oscar Pistorius, my paper examined the various stages of the Twitter coverage of the Lance Armstrong doping scandal over the second half of 2012 and start of 2013:

‘Appropriating breaking news? The evolving Twitter coverage of the Lance Armstrong doping scandal’ – Tim Highfield

The morning after IR14 concluded, I headed north to Toronto; for our research there, Sky and I took a step back from Twitter itself, instead looking at the challenges, limits, and advantages provided by big data and social media research in the study of social movements and activist groups, including the impact of this on the relationship between researchers and activists.

‘Mapping Movements: social movement research and big data: critiques and alternatives’ – Sky Croeser and Tim Highfield

Of course, it also goes without saying that I had a wonderful time once again at these conferences; AoIR is always full of exciting projects and amazing people, friends old and new, and it’s always a joy to head back there. The Toronto colloquium was similarly fascinating, representing some intriguing new projects into other platforms, and an opportunity to finally meet some people who have been in my reference lists for a long time. My thanks as always to all the conference chairs and organisers, fellow panelists and co-presenters, the chairs, respondents, and audience members, and everyone following along on the Twitter streams (whether at the conference or not!). Hopefully see you in Bangkok for IR15!


The year is closer to its end than its start, but with October approaching there’s just time to fit in a round of conference papers; next month, I’m off to North America and Europe for conferences and workshops, presenting my work both solo and with colleagues from the CCI, QUT, and Curtin at events in the US and Canada.

First up is this year’s Association of Internet Researchers conference, Internet Research 14.0: Resistance and Appropriation (IR14), which is taking place in Denver, Colorado, between 23-26 October 2013. This is always one of my favourite conferences, with the previous event in Salford, UK, a personal highlight from 2012 (the presentations I was involved in last year are here). This year I’m involved in three papers being presented at IR14, representing several aspects of the timely social media research carried out at QUT by both the Social Media Research Group and the Mapping Online Publics team.

First up is a very topical paper, ‘#ausvotes Mark Two: Twitter in the 2013 Australian Federal Election’, covering our research into the Australian federal election that took place only a few weeks ago on 7 September. This paper, led by Axel Bruns and including contributions from myself, Theresa Sauter, et al., forms part of the panel ‘Social Media and Elections: The Use of Twitter in the 2013 Campaigns in Italy, Australia, Germany, and Norway’, which also features papers from many of our colleagues and collaborators in Europe. If you’re attending IR14, you can see this presentation on 24 October, in the 1:40pm-3:10pm session in the Horace Tabor room.

Immediately after that, I’m going solo to present my research into parody on Twitter (see this earlier post for more discussion), ‘News via Voldemort: The role of parody and satire in topical discussions on Twitter’. This paper is also on 24 October, taking place in the 3:30pm-5:00pm session in the Molly Brown room.

The next day, my final IR14 presentation is another solo effort, but also part of a panel containing several other QUT colleagues (as well as international collaborators). The panel is on ‘Celebrity Crises on Twitter’, covering case studies including the Pope and Oscar Pistorius (these cases are covered individually in separate papers, I should clarify); my paper is on Lance Armstrong, and is entitled ‘Appropriating breaking news? The evolving Twitter coverage of the Lance Armstrong doping scandal’. You can see this panel on 25 October, in the 12:50pm-2:20pm session in the Confluence C room.

That leaves the final day of the conference free for me with regards to presentation duties, and a wealth of exciting parallel sessions to choose from – a quick plug, though, for the ‘Twitter and Society and Beyond‘ roundtable taking place on Saturday 26 October, in the 1:30pm-3:00pm session in room Confluence B, which features many excellent participants. This roundtable comes out of the forthcoming Twitter and Society collection, edited by Katrin Weller, Axel Bruns, Jean Burgess, Merja Mahrt, and Cornelius Puschmann, and published by Peter Lang (disclaimer: I have a chapter in this collection, but I’m not involved in the roundtable). As usual, though, the whole conference promises to be a very interesting and stimulating four days (including pre-conferences) – check out the full agenda here.

Following IR14, I’m then off to Toronto, Canada, for the symposium on Compromised Data? New paradigms in social media theory and methods, which is taking place on 28 and 29 October. There, Sky Croeser and I are presenting a paper coming out of our Mapping Movements work, interrogating ‘Social movement research and big data: critiques and alternatives’. This paper draws on the studies we’ve been working on into social movements and social media in the US, Tunisia, and Greece, particularly our methodological perspectives, in examining the benefits and, in particular, the limits of Big Data-driven research into such movements.

The week after the Toronto symposium, I’m heading to Munich for a QUT workshop with our colleagues at LMU – and then, after a brief pitstop in the UK, I’m back in Australia for the rest of the year (although obviously that won’t be the end of the work!).


Over the last few weeks, I’ve given a couple of presentations at conferences in France and Australia, about different aspects of Australian politics and Twitter. In June, I gave a paper at the CNRS in Paris, for the ‘Online political participation and its critics’ colloquium organised by the Réseau “Démocratie ELectronique”. My paper, entitled’Twitter and Australian political debates’, is currently being revised, but the slides are now available (see below). I did not record the session myself, but the colloquium organisers did, meaning that you can hear all of the presentations from both days (I presented as part of the PhD/ECR day, while the second day was a series of really interesting roundtables on politics and the internet, with both featuring French and international scholars). It’s very much worth your time to check them out, although be warned that the papers were presented in either English or French – this was the first conference I’d been to which offered simulatenous translation, which was very helpful, but I don’t believe the translations are available online. [caveat: this paper was presented on Wednesday 19 June 2013 - at this point, Julia Gillard was still Prime Minister, with the spill still a week away and not foreseen (beyond the ritual of daily #ruddmentum)].

Following Paris, I spent a week in the UK before returning to Western Australia for the Australia & New Zealand Communication Association (ANZCA) conference in Fremantle last week; here, I presented a paper co-authored with Axel Bruns, covering the #wavotes research which I blogged about over the first few months of the year. Slides and audio are provided below – I packed the slides with a lot of information which I then did not explain thoroughly, so apologies for that, and if you would like more information or clarifications, please get in touch with me (we’re also going to hopefully get the full paper out soon).

The two conferences covered some very different topics, and had a lot of fascinating papers;  I took plenty of notes, albeit in my usual scrawl, so once I have the time to decipher them properly I’d like to write up a post about the conferences; realistically, this might not happen, since there is plenty of work to be done at the moment, but if you get the time and you’re interested in these topics, I’d recommend checking out the DEL and ANZCA schedules and papers (and tweet archives, if you’re quick) for the papers and slides already online. My thanks to the organisers, presenters, chairs, and audiences (and of course, the translators) of these conferences for two great events.


Earlier this week I gave a presentation at the sixth Perth Georabble, as part of the international Big Data Week. The Big Data theme provided some scope to cover topics less directly relevant to locative or spatial data and analysis, and I was invited to give a short talk on the various Twitter mapping projects we’ve been carrying out at QUT and Curtin. Below are my slides, although no audio this time around – hopefully it made for a clear outline of our work and the various datasets and types of analysis we work with! There were some really interesting presentations given that evening, covering questions and topics around Big Data around different institutions and projects, including a fascinating overview of the Square Kilometre Array and its data (and the quandries they raise), and reflections on data collection from shipwreck sites for the WA Museum. My thanks to the organisers for inviting me, and hopefully I’ll make it back to the next Georabble in a month or so.



(The slides are also available through the Conference Slides section of this site; you can find more information about the various projects mentioned in the slides by following up the publication details on the relevant slides, or in some cases having a look through my other conference slides and publications)

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