Plenary Speakers

The recordings from the Twitter conference plenary speakers are available below.

Ruth Page

Saying ‘Sorry’: Corporate Apologies Posted on Twitter
Ruth Page, University of Leicester. Author of Stories in Social Media: Identities in Interaction

Twitter offers companies an influential environment in which to enhance their reputation and build rapport with existing and potential clients.  The growth of customer care talk on Twitter is evident in the changing patterns of interactions as observed in a dataset of 177, 735 tweets gathered between 2010 and 2012. One important aspect of the customer care talk is the apologies made by companies in response to customer complaints.  The analysis focuses on 1183 apologies, and considers the distinctive forms of their semantic components (the Illocutionary Force Indicating Device, Explanations, Offers of Repair (Blum Kulka et a. 1989)) and their rapport building potential (as indicated through opening and closing moves, such as greetings, nominations, discourse markers and emoticons).  Corporate apologies are distinctive for their under-use of Explanations, and their over-use of Offers of Repair, especially when combined with follow up moves such as imperatives and questions.  They are also distinctive in their repeated, somewhat formulaic use of greetings and signatures which did not appear in the apologies posted by ordinary Twitter members. As such, the rapport building strategies used by companies appear less personalised and more formal, with less associative expressiveness (Spencer-Oatey 2007) than in the interactions of ordinary apologies.  I interpret the distinctive distribution of these semantic and stylistic features in light of the companies’ imperative to save face and rebuild rapport with their customers, and to maintain a client base through Twitter.

Video recording - Ruth Page Plenary

53 mins, 37 sec

Lee Salter

Online freedom and repressive law, the paradox of digital journalism
Lee Salter, University of West of England. Co-author of Digital Journalism

Twitter and similar services represent one of the key paradoxes of liberal capitalism. The apparent freedom it affords communicators in an unregulated space resembles for some a free-market of ideas, or at least a significant form of rapid news circulation that circumvents broadcast-age regulation. However, drawing on Gramsci's distinction between coercion and consent, it can be seen  how, as with the "free-market",  the potential for freedom has been cut short. Whilst the attention of journalists and scholars has pointed to injunctions, court restrictions and libel cases, there have been much more pernicious cases of indirect control, especially in crisis situations such as the London riots and the Israeli invasion of Gaza. I will take these two cases to open a discussion into the concept of "public order" and how disruptions to it arising from microblogging practices are dealt with by politicians and mainstream media.

Video recording - Lee Salter Plenary

57 mins, 33 sec


Gerg Myers

Working and Playing on Science Twitter
Greg Myers, Lancaster University (Twitter @gregmyers)

There have been many data-mining studies of large numbers of diverse texts from Twitter.  But there is also a need for qualitative studies of Twitter use in specific communities (e.g., Gillen & Merchant 2013). I consider some of the broader issues in such studies by considering one case, a set of ten Twitter feeds by UK and US academic science researchers at all stages of their careers, from post-docs to the most eminent professors. I focus on two issues: 1) how they refer to and index the time cycles of academic work, and 2) how they play with intertextual links and hashtags.  I consider examples from a corpus of tweets of scientists (in such fields as astrophysics, geology, hydrology, and neurosciencde) compared to a reference corpus of tweets on other specific fields of interest (wines, dogs, schools, transit).  Twitter is often treated as an ephemeral part of celebrity culture, but these feeds are an important part of contemporary scientific practice, both giving public form to the ‘Invisible College’ linking scientists, and projecting outside the scientific community an image of scientific work and play.

Video recording - Greg Myers Plenary

58 mins, 18 sec

Rebekka Kill

Facebook is like Disco and Twitter is like Punk
Dr Rebekka Kill, Leeds Metropolitan University. (Twitter @drrebekkakill)

Dr Rebekka Kill is Head of School at The Leeds School of Art, Architecture and Design at Leeds Metropolitan University. Her research interests include disciplinary constructions of academic identity, social media and collaboration in practice based research. Recently she published a chapter co-authored with two MA students called Performance Matters When you’re Playing the Professional and an article on practice based Ph.Ds for the Journal of Writing in Creative Practice. Dr Kill is a practicing visual and performance artist, social media expert and also works as a nightclub DJ. Her recent performed TEDx-style talk Facebook is like Disco and Twitter is like Punk, has had worldwide interest online and also at two notable ideas festivals.


Nathan Jurgenson

Twitter Q&A on digital dualism and the IRL fetish
Nathan Jurgenson (Twitter @nathanjurgenson)

Nathan Jurgenson’s recent work has strongly challenged two assumptions that pervade both popular and scholarly writing on social media and mobile technology: first, the notion he disagrees with and terms ‘digital dualism’, i.e. that online and offline are largely separate spaces; and second, the idea that offline can be equated with real life, while the online is merely virtual, and that logging off might cure all of society’s ills and makes one more human, which he calls ‘the IRL fetish’. In this Twitter-based Q&A session, participants will have a chance to ask Nathan about his work, and to discuss how his ideas pose challenges to the nascent research paradigms taking shape around Twitter and other microblogging platforms. Participants (whether physically present in Lancaster or participating from another location) are strongly encouraged to read two of Nathan’s articles prior to the session:

"When Atoms Meet Bits: Social Media, the Mobile Web and Augmented Revolution" in Future Internet:
"The IRL Fetish" essay in The New Inquiry:

Video recording - Nathan Jurgenson Plenary

50 mins, 45 sec

Gerg Myers

Twitter Panel
Co-ordinated by Greg Myers, Lancaster University (Twitter @gregmyers)

Video recording - Twitter Panel Plenary

65 mins, 53 sec