Real-Time Applications (Twitter)

Living reference work entry
Part of the Springer Reference Sozialwissenschaften book series (SRS)


The popular social media platform Twitter is the latest in long line of platforms for synchronous (real-time) computer-mediated communication that stretches back at least to the heyday of Bulletin Board Systems (BBSs). Its specific communicative affordances – chiefly the 140-character limit that applies to individual tweets – and the gradual co-development of the platform in collaboration between platform provider Twitter, Inc. and its growing userbase have led to the establishment of a range of usage practices for Twitter that privilege co-present live conversation over more drawn-out asynchronous discussion threads. This has led the platform to be recognised especially as an important space for ad hoc publics to gather around crises and other acute events, as well as to join in the global audiences for other major media events. However, everyday phatic communication and the maintenance of social ties also continues to account for a substantial portion of overall Twitter traffic. This chapter traces the origins and gradual development of the platform, and outlines some of the key contemporary uses of Twitter.


Twitter Social media Computer-mediated communication Chat Acute events Audience engagement 


  1. Bordewijk, Jan L., and Ben van Kaam. 2003/1986. Towards a new classification of tele-information services. In The new media reader, eds. Noah Wardrip-Fruin and Nick Montfort, 576–582. Cambridge, MA: MIT P.Google Scholar
  2. Burns, Alex. 2010. Oblique strategies for ambient journalism. M/C Journal 13(2). Accessed 18 Apr 2015.
  3. Bruns, Axel. 2012. Ad hoc innovation by users of social networks: The case of Twitter. ZSI discussion paper 16. Accessed 18 Apr 2015.
  4. Bruns, Axel, and Jean Burgess. 2015. Twitter hashtags from ad hoc to calculated publics. In Hashtag publics: The power and politics of discursive networks, eds. Nathan Rambukkana. New York: Peter Lang.Google Scholar
  5. Bruns, Axel, Tim Highfield, and Jean Burgess. 2013. The Arab spring and social media audiences: English and Arabic Twitter users and their networks. American Behavioral Scientist 57(7): 871–898. doi: 10.1177/0002764213479374.
  6. Bruns, Axel, Darryl Woodford, Troy Sadkowsky, and Tim Highfield. 2014. Mapping a national Twittersphere: A ‘big data’ analysis of Australian Twitter user networks. Paper presented at the European Communication Conference (ECREA), Lisbon. 13 Nov 2014.Google Scholar
  7. Burgess, Jean, and Axel Bruns. 2015. Easy data, hard data: The politics and pragmatics of Twitter research after the computational turn. In Compromised data: From social media to big data, eds. Ganaele Langlois, Joanna Redden, and Greg Elmer, 68–88. London: Bloomsbury.Google Scholar
  8. Crawford, Kate. 2009. Following you: Disciplines of listening in social media. Continuum 23(4): 525–535.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Earle, Paul, Michelle Guy, Richard Buckmaster, Chris Ostrum, Scott Horvath, and Amy Vaughan. 2010. OMG earthquake! Can Twitter improve earthquake response? Seismological Research Letters 8(12): 246–251.Google Scholar
  10. Halavais, Alexander. 2014. Structure of Twitter: Social and technical. In Twitter & society, eds. Katrin Weller, Axel Bruns, Jean Burgess, Cornelius Puschmann, and Merja Mahrt, 29–42. New York: Peter Lang.Google Scholar
  11. Harrington, Stephen, Tim Highfield, and Axel Bruns. 2013. More than a backchannel: Twitter and television. Participations: Journal of Audience & Reception Studies 10(1): 405–409.Google Scholar
  12. Hermida, Alfred. 2010. From TV to Twitter: How ambient news became ambient journalism. M/C Journal 13(2). Accessed 18 Apr 2015.
  13. Hermida, Alfred. 2014. Twitter as an ambient news network. In Twitter & society, eds. Katrin Weller, Axel Bruns, Jean Burgess, Cornelius Puschmann, and Merja Mahrt, 359–372. New York: Peter Lang.Google Scholar
  14. Hermida, Alfred, Seth C. Lewis, and Rodrigo Zamith. 2014. Sourcing the Arab Spring: A case study of Andy Carvin’s sources on Twitter during the Tunisian and Egyptian revolutions. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication 19(3): 479–499.Google Scholar
  15. Hughes, Amanda L., and Leysia Palen. 2009. Twitter adoption and use in mass convergence and emergency events. International Journal of Emergency Management 6(3–4): 248–260.Google Scholar
  16. Mendoza, Marcelo, Barbara Poblete, and Carlos Castillo. 2010. Twitter under crisis: Can we trust what we RT? Paper presented at the 1st workshop on Social Media Analytics (SOMA’10). Washington, DC: ACM.Google Scholar
  17. Messina, Chris. 2007. Groups for Twitter; or a proposal for Twitter tag channels. FactoryCity, 25 Aug 2007. Accessed 18 Apr 2015.
  18. Palen, Leysia, Kate Starbird, Sarah Vieweg, and Amanda Hughes. 2010. Twitter-based information distribution during the 2009 Red River Valley flood threat. Bulletin of the American Society for Information Science and Technology 36(5): 13–17.Google Scholar
  19. Papacharissi, Zizi, and Maria de Fatima Oliveira. 2012. Affective news and networked publics: The rhythms of news storytelling on #Egypt. Journal of Communication 62: 266–282. doi: 10.1111/j.1460-2466.2012.01630.x.
  20. Pear Analytics. 2009. Twitter study – August 2009. Accessed 18 Apr 2015.
  21. Rogers, Richard. 2014. Debanalising Twitter: The transformation of an object of study. In Twitter & society, eds. Katrin Weller, Axel Bruns, Jean Burgess, Cornelius Puschmann, and Merja Mahrt, ix–xxvi. New York: Peter Lang.Google Scholar
  22. Sensis. 2014. Yellow™ social media report: What Australian people and business are doing with social media. Accessed 18 Apr 2015.
  23. Smith, Aaron. 2011. Twitter update 2011. PewResearchCenter: Internet, science & tech, 1 June 2011. Accessed 18 Apr 2015.
  24. Starbird, Kate, and Leysia Palen. 2010. Pass it on? Retweeting in mass emergency. In Proceedings of the 7th international ISCRAM conference. Seattle: ISCRAM.Google Scholar
  25. Twitter, Inc. 2015. About. Accessed 18 Apr 2015.
  26. Weller, Katrin, Axel Bruns, Jean Burgess, Cornelius Puschmann, and Merja Mahrt, eds. 2014. Twitter & society. New York: Peter Lang.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Fachmedien Wiesbaden 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Digital Media Research Centre, Z6-503, Creative Industries PrecinctQueensland University of TechnologyKelvin GroveAustralia

Personalised recommendations