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Researchers reveal the secret of Twitter


Belangloses Geschnatter oder neueartiges Nachrichtenmedium? An Twitter scheiden sich die Geister. Quelle: ap

Inconsequential chatter or neueartiges news media? On Twitter are the ghosts. Source: AP

DÜSSELDORF. The hype around Twitter remains a mystery to many: report More than a few on to the Kurnachrichtendienst, write a few messages that subscribe to news from some other users – and quickly to listen again. According to a study of the IT service Barracuda Networks only one in five registered users twittert permanently active – many users will not even write ten messages to the application, thus lose interest quickly.

In other strikes at the lack of understanding about the Twitter phenomenon in hostility: in the "time" called for an author already ‘Stop the chatter"And the service called" Klowand the Internet ". The former New York Times columnist David Bouchier called Twitter, the medium of linguistically impoverished. Pessimists agree: The flash is an expression of a SMS-like condensed youth language and Twitter is a stronghold of trivia.

Twitter is a social media news

Enemies and disappointed by Twitter could one have in common: that they have the real benefit of the short message service is not understood. Because Twitter is not primarily as a social network for friends to say how and when to just brush his teeth or go shopping. Rather, it is primarily to establish a medium for the dissemination of news, such as the computer Haewoon Kwak, Changhyun Lee, Hosung Park and Sue Moon of South Korea KAIST University, in a recent study. Moreover, they have scored 41.7 million Twitter users, 1.47 billion and 106 million short messages scientific relations on the portal.

Retweet for success

As the crucial key to understanding the Twitter communication, the researchers do this from the so-called Retweet. Early on Twitter has been under-users of the custom established to carry forward the messages of other users. For this purpose the appropriate message of another Twitter user by a preceding "RT @ Username" is repeated, wherein RT stands for Retweeting. Meanwhile, Twitter has this feature built in too firmly into his service.

Thus Twitter serves as a kind of natural selection for messages: What seems important to many, is often retweetet and spread like wildfire so, how to determine the researchers. The majority of messages that keep users unimportant fade, but almost unread in the stream of millions of Twitter messages, the daily rush through the net. They are displayed only for those who have subscribed to the message author directly (see box "What is Twitter" at the end of the article).

In the second study, the KAIST University researchers studied Meeyoung Cha, Hamed Haddadi, Fabrício Benevenuto and Krishna Gummadi Tweets 1.7 billion, to be particularly influential people make on Twitter identified. The most important multipliers are therefore not about users, such as the singer Britney Spears or the actor Ashton Kutcher, the most subscribers ("followers have"). Rather, it is those whose messages retweetet particularly common, so be repeated.

Particularly often, the flash of classic big news media like the New York Times, large American blogs like the Huffington Post, "known U.S. technology blogs such as" Tech Crunch "and" Mashable ", and the headlines from news sites like CNN or the news aggregator" Breaking News "repeatedly. These are therefore also particularly influential.

Meme – the survival of the information

The survival of information by repeating it in the network has become even outside of Twitter as a fundamental pillar of the digital culture. Aroused special attention in this context called 4chan image boards such as the American Forum. There rustle new images every second, through which a little later are not found because they were displaced by new images, published by the users anonymous. Only that which is taken up by others and therefore be published again and again, survived as long-term information. Internet users are using the term for this meme

The popularized by the biologist and Oxford professor Richard Dawkings concept goes back to the idea that not only genes are subject to an evolution, but also information. The concept of the meme is assumed that thoughts and ideas evolve like living things. find information that is not adapted to the environment – meaning no carrier, which it considers to be valuable enough to pass on the message to die – the long term. Value is of course a very subjective concept: the most famous internet meme called Lolcats are – photos of cats with speech bubbles, the awkward sentences say in bad English.

By this standard, the memes that come through on Twitter, rich communication. The analysis of scientists shows that prevail at Twitter themes that hold the traditional media is important. The Korean researchers are making as the dominant themes on Twitter during the investigation period 6 31 June 2009, the unrest in Iran and various issues of U.S. policy from. Cultural pessimists are likely to be reassured.

What is Twitter?

Twitter is an online hybrid: on one hand it is a short message service, also known as micro-blogging, the other to an online social network, such as StudiVZ or Facebook. Each user has to publish not only the possibility of a maximum 140-character messages over the Internet or by SMS, the real highlight is the social component: the user can choose which other users read the news they want. Unlike traditional social networks like Facebook – which also have a micro-blogging feature – it is here but not to each other "friends". Instead, there is the follower concept. Just because a User A User B reads the message, it must be the message from user A does not necessarily pay attention. According to the researchers one-follower relationships are more the rule than the exception.

Download of the studies