tdf in progress

In a couple of weeks I’m heading back to Europe for a short visit, this time to attend and present at two conferences: IR13, the Association of Internet Researchers annual conference, which is taking place in Salford, UK; and then ECREA, the European Communication Conference, in Istanbul, Turkey. I’m very much looking forward to these events, as it’s been a while since I’ve presented my work, and there are many exciting papers to hear and people to meet and with whom to catch up!

I’m currently furiously working on the papers for these conferences (the image above, for example is a graph-in-progress), with good reason – across the two conferences I’m involved in six different papers, collaborating with my colleagues Axel Bruns and Stephen Harrington at QUT (part of the Mapping Online Publics work), and with Sky Croeser from Curtin University. These papers cover topics as varied as Australian politics, the Queensland state election from earlier this year, the Occupy Oakland movement, the Tour de France, and the Eurovision Song Contest – all within the general context of uses and functions of Twitter and social media in general.

Current details for the presentations follow – these may yet change, and I will try to keep details on the ‘upcoming’ page accurate. Slides for these papers will appear here after the conferences, if you’re interested – and if you can’t make it to the conferences themselves, of course! You can also read the abstracts for each of the papers below the cut, although in some cases the abstract that was accepted does not quite match the paper that will be presented, due to technical issues with some datasets.

IR13, Salford, UK (18-21 October 2012)

20 Oct.
08.30-10.00: ‘Sharing the News: Dissemination of Links to Australian News Sites on Twitter’ – Axel Bruns, Stephen Harrington, and Tim Highfield. [Session 105: Twitter and Journalism]
10.30-12.00: ‘#Oscars, #Eurovision: Twitter as a Technology of Fandom’ – Axel Bruns, Stephen Harrington, and Tim Highfield. [Session 168: Fans and Twitter]

21 Oct.
13.00-14.30: ‘#auspol, #qldpol, and #wapol: Twitter and the new Australian political commentariat’ – Tim Highfield, Axel Bruns, and Stephen Harrington. [Session 150: Politics and Civic Engagement]
13.00-14.30: ‘#oo activism: Uses of Twitter within the Occupy Oakland movement’ – Sky Croeser and Tim Highfield. [Session 150: Politics and Civic Engagement]

ECREA, Istanbul, Turkey (24-27 October 2012)

25 Oct.
17.30-19.00: ‘Tweeting le Tour: Connecting the Tour de France’s global audience through Twitter’ – Tim Highfield, Axel Bruns, and Stephen Harrington. [DCC 3, Room A416]

26 Oct.
09.15-10.45: ‘Political Networks on Twitter: Tweeting the Queensland State Election’ – Stephen Harrington, Tim Highfield, and Axel Bruns. [POC 4, Room B120 – panel on ‘Social Media and Election Campaigns: Emerging Practices in Europe and Australia’, chaired by Christian Christensen]


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The first half of 2012 has rather flown by; I’ve spent much of the year so far teaching with Open Universities Australia, as well as continuing my work as a Research Fellow for the CCI’s ‘Media Ecologies and Methodological Innovation‘ project (see Mapping Online Publics). Over the upcoming months, I’m taking a break from teaching to work on a number of research projects, in the immediate future taking me to Germany next month for workshops and then, in October, to the UK and Turkey to present at IR13 and ECREA. There is a lot of work to be done for those papers (and indeed there are several papers to write!), with more information and work-in-progress to follow.

In the past week, a couple of articles that I contributed to have been made available, which collectively present some of the new research I’m working on and also more familiar material drawing from my thesis. The first is ‘More than a backchannel: Twitter and television’, a brief essay by Stephen Harrington, Axel Bruns, and myself, written for a collection of pieces on Audience Interactivity and Participation edited by José Manuel Noguera. The essay, as the name suggests, outlines ways that television and Twitter are interlinked and interact, which will be examined further in some of our forthcoming conference papers. It, and all of the other contributions to this volume, can be found in this PDF.

The second article is a more historical overview of political blogging in Australia: ‘Confrontation and cooptation: A brief history of Australian political blogs’, co-authored with Axel Bruns for the special issue of Media International Australia on ‘Internet Histories’ edited by Jock Given and Gerard Goggin. As a much shorter piece than my thesis, there is obviously not the same scope to explore every aspect of Australian political blogging or the different bloggers involved (and trying to do so is not the aim of the article); instead, the article highlights several key themes and events within the ongoing development of political blogging. The abstract can be found on the MIA website, with the article available through Informit for subscribers.


In what will hopefully be the last post about my PhD, the full, corrected version of my thesis is now available through QUT’s ePrints service: The final document is an 11mb PDF file, 405 pages long, and the result of three and a half years’ work, under the supervision of Axel Bruns and Jason Sternberg. If you cannot access the QUT-hosted version and would like to read through sections, please contact me via email (details here).

In other news, I’m busy working on several research projects and articles, some of which are directly related to what I covered in my thesis and others which head into new subjects and methods – more details on these to follow!


A few things happened while I was completing the PhD, which I probably should have mentioned at the time but then forgot about. A few months ago, I received a copy of Volume 29, Issue 3 of Social Science Computer Review in the mail, the edition containing the papers from two panels I was a part of at the 2010 ICA conference in Singapore.

I was involved in two papers, one with Axel Bruns, Jean Burgess, Lars Kirchhoff, and Thomas Nicolai which helped to establish some of the aims and context for the Mapping Online Publics project at QUT, and one with Lars and Thomas drawing directly on my PhD. That paper, ‘Challenges of tracking topical discussion networks online’ drew on early research into one of my case studies in asking methodological questions about how to study online communication, and helped the development of the idea of topical network analysis that I used in my thesis. The abstracts for these papers were initially sent in over two years ago now, so they’ve been around for a while (written and presented in June 2010, online last year), but I’m mentioning the availability of the final version for purely personal reasons: it’s the first time my research has made it into print!



16/03/2008 – (18/07/2011) – 17/11/2011

Thesis Inside
Spine Inside


Corrections made, thesis printed and bound, all paperwork signed off – the PhD is now complete. I’m off to Brisbane in a few weeks for graduation, and then my time as a student really will be all over.

The thesis will soon be available through QUT’s eprints website. Once it’s uploaded, I’ll add the link here – if you’re interested in looking at it before then, send me an email and I’ll see what I can do!

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