Twitter: who’s talking about who?

Over the past few weeks it seems that all my Twitter timeline has consisted of is basketball and opinionated conversation regarding who’s team is best.

In the midst of the regular basketball season coming to a close, and the NCAA tournament beginning, I have had my fair share of posting my usual “Roll Jays!” or “Beat (opponent)” tweets buzzing through my time line.  Especially leading up to Selection Sunday, when both Creighton and in-state rival, University of Nebraska- Lincoln were given bids to the tournament.  For those who know me, know that I am a die-hard Jays fan.   I bleed blue.  I have nothing against the huskers or Nebraska- I live here, for goodness sake- however I will always choose CU over NU.   Growing up in Omaha I have always cheered for the jays.  I’ve been to Husker football games and their fan base- much like Creighton- is fantastic.

Once Selection Sunday was over, and my Twitter and Facebook timelines flooded with tournament posts, I noticed some different “types” of people that were mainly posting regarding basketball:  Creighton fans, Nebraska fans, and Jayskers (individuals who cheer for both teams).  Recently the Pew Center did some research on the different types of conversations mapping throughout Twitter.  One of the types of structures within the network is called “Polarized Crowds” and consists of 2 large groups of Twitter users discussing polarizing topics.  For those of you from the great state of Nebraska, you know that when it comes to Bluejay basketball and Husker basketball it is the epitome of polar opposites. Naturally, when both teams made it into the tournament, fans wanted nothing more than to see the two rivals play each other.  I, on the other hand, was hoping for the opposite.

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After thinking about the different structures of Twitter conversations that the Pew research presented I began to think of different topics that went with the different types of groups of people.  Below is a chart of the six structures.



In addition to the Creighton and Nebraska basketball fans falling in to the polarized crowds, within the next section, “tight crowds” I thought of Greek life being a perfect example.  While all “greeks” can relate to one another, unless you are in a specific organization (i.e. Sigma Phi Epsilon, Kappa Delta, etc) you have no clue what actually is going on within that organization.  This is easy to see on Twitter with different hashtags that mean certain things to each specific group, inside jokes they have, etc.  Sororities and fraternities represent close knit communities where members connect to one another for ideas, opinions and shared interests.  Brand clusters include groups formed around products and celebrities that have a mass interest in something however they are not really connected to one another.  Examples of this could include individuals who are dedicated to wearing Nike and Under Armor or those who choose to drink Coca-Cola over Pepsi.  And finally community clusters include individuals that are connected by common interest generated around global news events or popular topics, but are otherwise disconnected from one another.  On Twitter I have seen many individuals talking about the Malaysian flight that disappeared recently-discussing the mystery on their Twitters or their thoughts on the results of the latest award shows (Oscars, CMA’s, etc.).

The mapping shown through these structures allow for us to see how Twitter works because it clumps together all of the same things that are being talked about by different people who may or may not be connected.  However, in some ways it doesn’t work because if individuals are not connected, and are talking about similar things they may not have the same meanings, and could be misconstrued.

Regardless of what you are interested in, chances are someone else will always be talking about it as well.


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