Mini Research Assignment: Twitter

I propose that Twitter would serve as an ideal example of an online environment tailored towards emotional information seeking. Twitter is an online micro-blogging and social networking service in which users post short messages of up to 140 characters (“Tweets”). It is tailored to a wide audience (it currently has over 500 million active users) and thus could serve as an excellent subject for any study related to emotional information seeking. User activity consists of posting Tweets, following other Twitter users, and re-posting comments from other Twitter feeds. Because of the condensed nature of the Tweet, many messages consist of brief emotional responses or quips (following the Miami Marlins’ recent fire-sale trade to the Blue Jays, slugger Giancarlo Staunton tweeted: “Alright, I’m pissed off!!! Plain & Simple”). Moreover, many Twitter feeds are devoted to news and political information – Barack Obama’s strong Twitter presence was later judged to be instrumental to his success in the 2008 presidential election. Again, the concise nature of Twitter messages lends itself to brief emotional responses on important and controversial issues. Finally, the fact that Twitter is a social network in addition to a micro-bogging service means that it is an ideal environment in which to study information-seeking behaviour. For these reasons, I believe that Twitter would be an perfect subject for the above-described project.


Klein’s style

Does anyone else have trouble reading articles when they’re as badly written as Klein’s is? His point in the second paragraph can be fully expressed in the following clause: the humanities and the social sciences have different approaches to the study of new media. For some reason he can’t just come out and say that; instead he tries to dress up his prose with a lot of fashionable academic catchwords -hermeneutics, epistemology, hegemony, discourse. All those polysyllables are hiding a dirty secret: Klein doesn’t know how to write. Take this by no means atypical sentence: “Prompted by repeated instances of spectacular youth violence (the Charles Manson killings for example) the effects of children’s exposure to violence has become one of the most researched issues in media studies.” I spot at least three bloomers, over and above the atrocious style. Firstly, Klein fails to notice that his sentence begins with a participle clause, which should be separated by a comma. He then proceeds to dangle this clause off a completely unrelated subject (“the effects”). Finally, he confuses the singular/plural agreement between “effects” and “has”. If there is a lesson here, it is that clear expression should not take a back seat to theories and ideas, however grand they may be. And for God’s sake, Klein, don’t say “obfuscate” when you mean “cloud”.


Hi everyone! So, I thought it was interesting that in the very first chapter Luker identifies language as an invaluable tool for theorization and research (“both [reading and writing] are, first and foremost, thinking processes…”). Lots of writers have pointed out the close association between language and thought – Wittgenstein was big on the idea – but I’ve never heard it invoked in the context of academic research. I know scientists are meticulous about logs and journals; they have to be, to ensure their experiments are objective and empirical. It’s ironic that in the humanities, where there’s so much emphasis on expression and literacy, we sometimes forget to use these tools in the course of our research. Hmph!