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Parra Denis, Gomez M., Hutardo D., Wen X., Lin Yu-Ru, Trattner Christoph

Twitter in academic events: {A} study of temporal usage, communication, and topical patterns in 16 Computer Science conferences

Computer Communications, Elsevier, 2015

Twitter is often referred to as a backchannel for conferences. While the main conference takes place in a physicalsetting, on-site and off-site attendees socialize, introduce new ideas or broadcast information by microblogging on Twitter.In this paper we analyze scholars’ Twitter usage in 16 Computer Science conferences over a timespan of five years. Ourprimary finding is that over the years there are differences with respect to the uses of Twitter, with an increase ofinformational activity (retweets and URLs), and a decrease of conversational usage (replies and mentions), which alsoimpacts the network structure – meaning the amount of connected components – of the informational and conversationalnetworks. We also applied topic modeling over the tweets’ content and found that when clustering conferences accordingto their topics the resulting dendrogram clearly reveals the similarities and differences of the actual research interests ofthose events. Furthermore, we also analyzed the sentiment of tweets and found persistent differences among conferences.It also shows that some communities consistently express messages with higher levels of emotions while others do it in amore neutral manner. Finally, we investigated some features that can help predict future user participation in the onlineTwitter conference activity. By casting the problem as a classification task, we created a model that identifies factors thatcontribute to the continuing user participation. Our results have implications for research communities to implementstrategies for continuous and active participation among members. Moreover, our work reveals the potential for the useof information shared on Twitter in order to facilitate communication and cooperation among research communities, byproviding visibility to new resources or researchers from relevant but often little known research communities.
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