Living Reference Work Entry

Handbuch Soziale Praktiken und Digitale Alltagswelten

Part of the series Springer Reference Sozialwissenschaften pp 1-9

Date: Latest Version

Real-Time Applications (Twitter)

  • Axel BrunsAffiliated withDigital Media Research Centre, Z6-503, Creative Industries Precinct, Queensland University of Technology Email author 


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