conversations create identifiable networks that have structural
differences depending on the topic and the influence of dominant
individuals. The structures are created as participants in the network
choose the people they answer, retweet, and mention in their own
messages, according to the Pew Research Internet Project.
The Pew researchers found six identifiable network structures: divided, unified, fragmented, clustered, and inward and outward hub and spoke structures. The report summary contains explanations and examples of teach type.
who tweet about political topics, for instance, tend to form divided
structures, in the form of two separate and polarized conversational
networks. Participants in these differing networks don't interact with
each other and they rely on very different sources of information. In
many controversial conversations participants in the networks that Pew
identified as liberal or conservative cited very different websites and
distinctly different words and hashtags. People in the liberal groups
generally cited URLs for mainstream news outlets, whereas conservatives
tended to cite URLs for conservative news and commentary websites, the
report says. The report says the finding underscores the partisan nature
of political tweeting and group reliance on different people and
organizations as well as different news sources. It also shows the two
groups usually ignore each other despite intense interest in the same
networks are tight crowds of highly interconnected people often joined
together by professional interests and hobbies. These structures often
show how networked learning communities work and how social media can
foster sharing and mutual support. People who form Twitter groups based
on their interests in brands, products or celebrities, tend to form
fragmented networks because they focus on their interest, but don't
usually connect with each other.
conversations often look like bazaars with many centers of activity,
the report says. For instance, people interested in the disappearance of
Malaysian Airlines flight 307 could follow the news presented in
several languages by several news outlets. Any global story, the report
says, can generate multiple and diverse audiences that illustrate
diverse opinions and perspectives.
networks tend to form a hub and inward spoke structure, in which
participants repeat and comment on the output of well known media
outlets. Participants are often connected to and in conversation with
the hub, not each other. Support networks, such asbusinesses trying to
resolve customer complaints, create a hub and outward spoke structure,
where the hub business sends replies and information to many
media is the new public square, Pew researchers say, and the network
maps formed by Twitter conversations are like aerial photographs that
show size, composition, and network locations that are analogous to
positions of strategic importance in physical landscapes. These
locations can help identify key people who influence social media
conversations. Read the Pew Research Internet Project report for more information, illustrations of the maps, and further sources on network data and visualizations.
Thanks to Buck Lawrimore for pointing out this story.