Sunday, October 3, 2010

Authorities and hubs in Twitter conference feeds

"Understanding how Twitter is used to spread scientific messages" is another conference paper studying the scientific uses of Twitter.

Letierce, Passant, Breslin and Decker (2010) analysed Twitter feeds from the International Semantic Web Conference (#iswc2009), the Online Information Conference 2009 (#online09) and the European Semantic Technology Conference (#estc2009). First, they checked the distribution of tweets per user, then the distribution of tweets that were directed to individuals (@user messages). They found that both were Power Law distributions.

After that, they used the HITS (Hyperlink-Induced Topic Search) algorithm to determine the hubs and authorities of the conference feeds. Users who addressed many @user messages were considered hubs, while the users who received many @user tweets were considered authorities. Letierce et al.'s not-very-surprising conclusion was that users with both high hub and authorities scores were often the organizers of the events studied in the research. Also, users with real-world authority (their example was @timberners_lee) also had t-authority. Of course, Letierce and her colleagues couldn't determine if there are more real-world authorities that don't use Twitter (perhaps a content analysis of the tweets can determine if there are talks about people who aren't Twitter users, but that's very time-consuming and not the point of the research here).

In addition, the paper includes a small survey (61 participants) conducted by the authors, but I chose not to discuss it here, because of the small sample.

Letierce, J., Passant, A., Breslin, J., & Decker, S. (2010). Understanding how Twitter is used to spread scientific messages Proceedings of the WebSci10: Extending the Frontiers of Society On-Line, April 26-27th, Raleigh, NC: US.

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